Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Jessica F. Shumway


Jessica F. Shumway


Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham


Jody Clarke-Midura


Beth MacDonald


Katherine Vela


Research shows that computational thinking can be used with kindergarten mathematics instruction, however we still do not know much about how specific math knowledge is related to computational thinking and if (and if so, how) children's mathematical knowledge is related to students' performance on computational thinking assessments. This student fills this knowledge gap by examining the following research questions: (1) How are kindergarten students' mathematical knowledge (MK) and computational thinking (CT)MK and CT operationalized during a CT assessment? In what ways, if any, do MK and CT co-occur, and (2) How do students' mathematical knowledge and co-occurring mathematical knowledge and computational thinking relate to their performance on individual assessment items?

To answer these questions, I analyzed video data that was originally collected for a larger research study (NSF project award #DRL-1842116), which showed 60 kindergarten students taking an interview-based, computational thinking assessment. I coded and notated the data to describe how students demonstrate their mathematical knowledge and computational thinking, then analyzed the coded data to identify how students' mathematical knowledge and computational thinking co-occurred. Lastly, I described how, for four assessment items, students' co-occurring knowledge related to their assessment item performance.

The results show that students demonstrated different levels of mathematical knowledge and computational thinking through their gestures, language, and interactions with the assessment materials. Students' spatial and unit measurement knowledge most frequently co-occurred with computational thinking, and most often when students built and read/enacted programs. I categorized the co-occurrences as independent or dependent, depending on if the co-occurrence related to the students' correct or incorrect response to the assessment items. These findings show that mathematical knowledge and computational thinking are strongly connected, and that students' mathematical knowledge is related to how they performed on the assessment. These findings have implications for computational thinking curriculum and assessment design, mathematics curriculum design, and theory. Based on the results of this present study, I recommend that mathematics curriculum developers take advantage of the particularly strong connections of spatial and unit measurement knowledge with computational thinking to design experiences for children develop their spatial reasoning and measurement knowledge.