The concept of critical thinking has been around since the times of Socrates. How can a 20th century invention build this skill in today’s students?
Critical thinking is the ability to choose a belief or action in a clear and balanced way. It promotes creative problem-solving, improves self-expression, and encourages mental flexibility. We believe that coding and computer science is one of the best tools to teach critical thinking with an authentic, real-world approach.
Here are 3 reasons why:
Coding and critical thinking share a process.
Both coding and critical thinking share these process steps: 1) identify a problem or task 2) analyze that problem/task 3) come up with initial solutions 4) test 5) iterate and refine. Troubleshooting is a great example of this process in coding, as programmers need to identify issues and try different tactics until they find a strong solution.
Practice makes perfect.
Coding provides tons of opportunity to think differently or deeply about problems and possible solutions. The breadth of possibilities during the coding creation process allows students to practice their critical thinking skills in every class session.
- There’s no one right answer.
- There are always multiple “right” answers in the coding creation process. Every website, animation, or game will be different based on the design aesthetics of the user, the functionality, and the limits of technology. This variability teaches students that they need to be open to new ideas and stay flexible.
Now that you know why coding and critical thinking pair well, how can teachers activate critical thinking in coding?
Here are a few activity ideas for the classroom:
Find the Bug
A great way to build critical thinking skills is to review some pre-built “broken” code to determine what’s wrong. Follow up with our team to learn more about using a codepen.io example like our Broken Code Puppy Activity, in which students have to fix three errors in the code (specifically, fixing three mistakes in HTML tag format).
Same but Different
In this activity, students get one set of content for a site, but they receive two different design parameters (e.g., the audience, number of webpages, branding, etc.), so they have to build the same site twice. This builds an understanding of how to connect form and function as well as how to think critically about their choices.
Mapping My Website
In this activity, students plan the design for a multi-page website. The design should ensure that users will automatically understand how to navigate the pages. Students can create a sitemap using a graphic organizer like this one to show how they will navigate their site.
As always, contact us at email@example.com with any questions!