1 School of Education and CI&DEI, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
2 School of Technology and Management and CISeD, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
3 School of Education, Polytechnic of Viseu and CIDMA, University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
4 School of Technology and Management and CI&DEI, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
5 School of Technology and Management, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
6 Izmir Democracy University (TURKEY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 6696-6705
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.1580
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Computational thinking and algorithmic thinking have been promoted in several educational systems as preparation for the challenges of the future. Algorithmic thinking, in particular, has long traditions in different scientific areas and can be connected to all curricular areas of Early Childhood Education in Portugal (Figueiredo, Gomes, et al., 2021). Algorithmic thinking is defined as the ability to think in terms of clear, simple, and small sequences and repetitive rules to solve a problem or understand a situation (Csizmadia et al., 2015; Futschek, 2006; Sadykova & Il’bahtin, 2020). With a focus on problem-solving and thinking and creativity skills, teachers and curriculum developers are being challenged to foster algorithmic thinking skills starting from preschool (Strnad, 2018). Therefore the strong emphasis on introducing algorithmic thinking in Early Childhood Education requires the development of quality proposals for teacher education (Gencel et al., 2021). The project “Algorithmic Thinking Skills through Play-Based Learning for Future’s Code Literates” (Algolittle), under the Erasmus+ Programme, has created a curriculum for initial teacher education. Based on work developed in Algolittle, a deck of cards has been created to work with future teachers and children in Early Childhood Education on algorithmic thinking and creativity. The resource is being validated through a process of design-based research (Ploomp, 2018).

In this paper, we will present the conceptual framework that supported the development of the deck. The research on algorithmic thinking in Early Childhood Education was articulated with research on creativity. The decision to create a deck of cards followed from that relationship, particularly connected to studies about decks as manipulatives to support creativity (Alves, 2013). The option for a deck of cards was also based on the familiarity of that resource in Early Childhood Education. The paper also presents the deck and its instructions. Thirdly, the paper explains the research design for evaluating the deck of cards in terms of four criteria: relevance, consistency, practicality, and effectiveness (Nieveen & Folmer, 2018). Finally, we report the results of three instances of validation of the deck of cards: two tests with future Early Childhood Education teachers and one test with children. Data was collected through participant observation, short informal interviews, and analysis of artifacts created during the usage tests. The results suggest that the design is simple and attractive, and seen as appropriate for Early Childhood Education. Several ways of using the cards were listed, showing there is potential for the deck to be used openly, beyond the instructions presented. The steps prepared were helpful for an easy start to using the deck and allowed for a good understanding of the concepts involved. The products created (drawings) were very different which reinforced the idea of an open-ended material. The possibility of creating new rules and cards was explored by the participants and the creations were innovative. The suggestion to create stories both with the drawings and with the cards themselves was put forward and will be further investigated in future instances of the research.
Algorithmic thinking, early childhood education, play, creativity, deck.