As part of our research pre-assessment of student skills, we developed an integrated assessment tool. But, unlike most “embedded assessments,” learning activities that also exposes something measurable, ours is an instrument first, that uses an interactive app to help measure the students’ skills and understanding of computational thinking concepts AND digital literacy.
This tool is a survey, which can be administered in-class, like any other pre-survey instrument. During the survey, the students are asked to play with a simple app, that we also designed.
The use of the app does one important thing that a survey alone cannot: it tests the students’ digital literacy skills in opening and manipulating the app on their tablet. The first questions on the survey are intended to validate that the student is in fact using the app, and can press buttons and observe behaviors of the app. If a student seems to lack these skills, and did not get the opening questions right, then we know the remaining questions on the survey may be invalid.
The survey then goes on to ask the students what blocks of code they think may be driving the behaviors of the app. Looking just at a finished (but very simple) app, and choosing which provided code blocks are likely to drive a particular behavior, the students will demonstrate their baseline for a number of computational thinking skills.
Digital literacy skills are a big part of this project. A student who lacks the DL to drive the computer and mobile device will have a harder time assembling apps, which puts them further away from understanding the underlying CT concepts that we want to teach. In this program, DL skills will be taught along with the CT. By measuring the basic DL required to interact with an app, we can establish an important baseline to compare against at the end of the project, where will again measure digital literacy along with the computational thinking.