Title: A Systems Thinking Approach to Computational Thinking in Education
Subject: Computer- and information science
Faculty: Faculty of Technology
Date: 21 of September 2023
Place: Newton, house C, Växjö
External reviewer: Associate professor Daniel Spikol, University of Copenhagen, Danmark
Chairperson: Docent Päivi Jokela, Linnaeus university
Supervisor: Professor Anita Mirijamdotter, Linnaeus university
Assistant supervisor: Professor Marcelo Milrad, Linnaeus university
Docent Fisnik Dalipi, Linnaeus university
Lektor Sadaf Salavati, Linnaeus university
Examiner: Docent Arianit Kurti, Linnaeus university
In today's rapidly changing world, the acquisition of essential skills is crucial for the success of young individuals. Among these skills, computational thinking (CT) plays a vital role in problem-solving and adapting to the complex and evolving demands of the 21st century. However, there is a need to explore the integration of other thinking skills alongside CT, as well as their application in educational settings. This study aims to address the gap in knowledge regarding the application of systems thinking to the development of CT and its integration into education. The primary objective is to explore the relationship between systems thinking and CT, providing a contextual framework for existing studies that focus on systems thinking in relation to CT. Additionally, the study explores how systems thinking can be applied to CT within educational contexts. By incorporating a systems thinking approach, a broader examination of the various factors involved in CT, including the technological landscape, individual skills and knowledge, and the social and cultural context, can be achieved.
The thesis comprises three papers that describe research efforts conducted over three years. These projects focused on CT development using educational robotics and maker technologies, aiming to build and enhance CT skills among individuals of different ages and perspectives. The findings of the research efforts are synthesized and consolidated using the systemic FMA model, a comprehensive model that interconnects the frameworks of ideas, methodology, and the area of interest. This model conceptualizes CT practices as a system encompassing emergent properties, multiple perspectives, design interventions, and social and ethical considerations. The adopted FMA model enables methodological pluralism and facilitates critical examination of the boundaries of CT development, leading to conceptual and practical changes. The research contributes to the field of CT by providing insights into its theoretical foundations and practical applications, informing and guiding educational practices that are associated with CT.