Teaching computational thinking in K-12 as a 21th century skill is becoming increasingly important. Computational thinking describes a specific way of reasoning building on concepts and processes derived from algorithms and programming. One way to teach these concepts is games as an effective and efficient alternative. This article presents SplashCode, a low-cost board game to reinforce basic algorithms and programming concepts. The game was developed in a systematic way following an instructional design process, and applied and evaluated in a Brazilian public school with a total of 65 students (grade 5 to 9). First results indicate that the game can have a positive impact on motivation, learning experience, and students' learning, as well as contribute positively to social interaction, relevance, and fun. Results of this study may assist in the selection of games as an instructional strategy and/or in the development of new games for teaching computational thinking.
The objective of this article is to present the development and evaluation of dETECT (Evaluating TEaching CompuTing), a model for the evaluation of the quality of instructional units for teaching computing in middle school based on the students' perception collected through a measurement instrument. The dETECT model was systematically developed and evaluated based on data collected from 16 case studies in 13 different middle school institutions with responses from 477 students. Our results indicate that the dETECT model is acceptable in terms of reliability (Cronbach's alpha ?=.787) and construct validity, demonstrating an acceptable degree of correlation found between almost all items of the dETECT measurement instrument. These results allow researchers and instructors to rely on the dETECT model in order to evaluate instructional units and, thus, contribute to their improvement and to direct an effective and efficient adoption of teaching computing in middle school.
The management of contemporary software projects is unfeasible without the support of a Project Management (PM) tool. In order to enable the adoption of PM tools in practice, teaching its usage is important as part of computer education. Aiming at teaching PM tools, several approaches have been proposed, such as the development of educational PM tools. However, such approaches are typically limited with respect to content coverage and instructional support. In this context, an important technique is the provision of instructional feedback, which is essential in order to help the students to learn based on the evaluation of their own actions. In order to take advantage of this technique, this article proposes its employment in an Instructional Unit, being integrated into the PM tool dotProject+, providing automated feedback based on the project plan being developed with the tool. This technique has been evaluated through a series of case studies.