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Computer Science Education



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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


Background and Context: While assessment of computational thinking concepts, practices, and perspectives is at the forefront of K-12 CS education, supporting student communication about computation has received relatively little attention.

Objective: To examine the usability of process-based portfolios for capturing students’ communication about their computational practices regarding the process of making electronic textile projects.

Method: We examined the portfolios of 248 high school students in 15 introductory CS classrooms from largely underserved communities, using a formal rubric (top-down) to code computational communication and an open-coding scheme (bottom-up) to identify computational practices described.

Findings: Students demonstrated stronger abilities to communicate about computation using text than visuals. They also reported under-assessed CT practices like debugging, iterating, and collaborating. Students of experienced e-textile teachers performed substantially better than those with novice e-textile teachers.

Implications: Portfolios provide a viable addition to traditional performance or survey assessments and meet a need to promote communication skills.


This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Computer Science Education. Fields, D. A., Lui, D., Kafai, Y. B., Jayathirtha, G., Walker, J. T., & Shaw, M.* (2021). Communicating about computational thinking: Understanding affordances of portfolios for assessing high school students’ computational thinking and participation practices. Computer Science Education. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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