My student, Samri Chongo using CT in his PhD research

I am writing a book entitled “Computational Thinking in
Active Learning for Engineering Design”.

The content will be


Computational Thinking (CT) was first introduced by Jeannette Wing. In this ground-breaking paper, Wing suggests that CT should become like reading and writing, a necessary skill for everyone not just computer scientists. CT is a problem solving methodology that uses the concepts of computer science to solve problems. The term “computational thinking” is defined as solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behaviour, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science (Wing 2006). By definitions:

• computational /ˌkämpyəˈtāSH(ə)n(ə)l/
: using or relating to computers.

• thinking /ˈθɪŋkɪŋ/
: the process of considering or reasoning about something.

Therefore, computational thinking (CT) is a method of problem solving through a process adapted from computer science. It involves the process of identifying problems and completing them in a form that can be implemented by the information processing agent.


Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learning method based on the principle of using problems as a starting point for the acquisition and integration of new knowledge.” (Barrows, 1980). Let us review the definitions.

• problem \ˈprä-bləm, -bəm, -ˌblem\
: something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc.

• learn \ˈlərn\
: to gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, or being taught, or by experiencing something.

Therefore, problem-based learning (PBL) is a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through the experience of problem solving. PBL is crucial to be practiced as it will enhance the quality of learning. PBL begins with the end in mind which is it teaches students to do tasks that they will face in the future. On top of that, PBL develops students who are effective problem solvers and ready to participate in the Information Literacy Age.


Designing prototype using an engineering design process is to train students to think and act likes engineers. Engineering design skills are a process that provides an analysis, synthesis, and cognitive framework for problem solving in engineering. Seven steps involved during
POPBL of Engineering Design with computational thinking are:
1. Identifying Problems
2. Analyze the Problem
3. Design a proposed solution
4. Choosing a solution
5. Build a prototype
6. Test the prototype
7. Design improvement as needed


There are two types of assessment, which is summative assessment and formative assessment. Summative assessment often takes the form of traditional grading for accountability. It is usually formal and comprehensive and may be judgmental. Example of summative assessment includes open question and answer, final oral presentation, critiques and reflections.
Formative assessment provides feedback for improvement and development at the end of each step 1 until 7.


Aalborg University in Denmark uses PBL throughout its several engineering programs. An evaluation of Aalborg University’s approach is described by Fink (1999). Fink compared Aalborg with the Danish Technology University (DTU), which uses a traditional approach. The evaluation consisted of interviews of industry leaders, students, and graduates and visits to both schools. The findings were mixed. The Aalborg graduates were stronger in team skills, communication, and project management and exhibited greater flexibility at graduation. The Aalborg students were, therefore, more employable upon graduation. The DTU students were stronger in the fundamentals but required more practical training after graduation. The Aalborg dropout rate was 20-25%, whereas the rate was 40% at DTU.