Improving learning of computational thinking using creative thinking exercises in CS-1 computer science courses

L. Dee Miller, Leen Kiat Soh, Vlad Chiriacescu, Elizabeth Ingraham, Duane F. Shell, Stephen Ramsay, Melissa Patterson Hazley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

43 Scopus citations


Promoting computational thinking is one of the top priorities in CS education as well as in other STEM and non-STEM disciplines. Our innovative NSF-funded IC2 Think project blends computational thinking with creative thinking so that students leverage their creative thinking skills to "unlock" their understanding of computational thinking. In Fall 2012, we deployed creative exercises designed to engage Epstein's creative competencies (Surrounding, Capturing, Challenging and Broadening) in introductory level CS courses targeting four different groups (CS, engineering, combined CS/physical sciences, and humanities majors). Students combined hands-on problem solving with guided analysis and reflection to connect their creative activities to CS topics such as conditionals and arrays and to real-world CS applications. Evaluation results (approximately 150 students) found that creative thinking exercise completion had a linear "dosage" effect. As students completed more exercises [0/1 - 4], they increased their long-term retention [a computational thinking test], F(3, 98) = 4.76, p =.004, partial Eta2 =.127 and course grades, F(3, 109) = 4.32, p =.006, partial Eta2 =.106. These findings support our belief that the addition of creative thinking exercises to CSCE courses improves the learning of computational knowledge and skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2013 Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationEnergizing the Future, FIE 2013 - Proceedings
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2013
Event43rd IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2013 - Oklahoma City, OK, United States
Duration: Oct 23 2013Oct 26 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference43rd IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOklahoma City, OK


  • CS1
  • College
  • Computational thinking
  • Computer science
  • Creative thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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