Weipeng Yang

Coding With Robots or Tablets? Effects of Technology-Enhanced Embodied Learning on Preschoolers’ Computational Thinking and Social-Emotional Competence

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Education

Computational Thinking (CT) is essential for developing creativity, problem-solving, and digital competence in the 21st century. Coding tools like robotic toys and tablet apps have become popular in early childhood education to support CT development, but there is a debate on which tool is more effective. Little evidence exists on the effect of coding on children’s Social-Emotional Competence (SEC), which is crucial for lifelong development and extends beyond cognitive development. This experimental study aimed to compare the effectiveness of two 9-week programs on promoting 73 preschool children’s CT and SEC, one using coding robots and the other using coding apps. The results showed that children who participated in the Coding Robot Program had higher CT scores than those in the Coding App Program, after controlling for age, gender, family socioeconomic status, and baseline CT scores. While the SEC scores showed no substantial disparities between the groups, it was revealed that the initial performance levels moderated the intervention effects on emotional regulation and overall SEC. This suggests that the Coding Robot Program could be especially advantageous for a subset of children who initially have difficulties with emotional regulation and social skills. Implications of this study are presented for research and practice.

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