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Computational Thinking Operational Definition
ISTE and CSTA have collaborated with leaders from higher education, industry, and K–12 education to develop an operational definition of computational thinking (CT). The definition provides a framework and vocabulary for CT that is meant to resonate with all K–12 educators.
Science teacher and students
Operational definition for computational thinking for K-12 education
CT is a problem-solving process that includes (but is not limited to) the following characteristics:

  • Formulating problems in a way that enables us to use a computer and other tools to help solve them.
  • Logically organizing and analyzing data
  • Representing data through abstractions such as models and simulations
  • Automating solutions through algorithmic thinking (a series of ordered steps)
  • Identifying, analyzing, and implementing possible solutions with the goal of achieving the most efficient and effective combination of steps and resources
  • Generalizing and transferring this problem solving process to a wide variety of problems
Download the Operational Definition (PDF)
Generalizing and transferring this problem solving process to a wide variety of problems

  • Confidence in dealing with complexity
  • Persistence in working with difficult problems
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • The ability to deal with open ended problems
  • The ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution