Xiaoling Zhang

PhD Candidate



Xiaoling focuses on investigation of assessment of Computational Thinking in higher education.

Computational Thinking Skills for Everyone Computing plays an important role in everyday life activities, from the past to present, and to the future. It is undeniable that the advent of computing machines has brought enormous changes to our life in recent decades such as network, messaging, remote learning, online business. In this context, skills to use and create the corresponding technology, are crucial for human-beings living in this era and onwards.

Computational Thinking (CT) is one of the essential skills among the others. It has caught increasing attention since Wing promoted it as an essential skills for everyone in her viewpoint in the year of 2006. Most of the work since then dedicated to broadcast the skill to audience in K-12 educational settings and there is an increase interest in higher education in recent years. In addition to that, the focus in all educatioanal level was on Computer Science (CS) subjects / majors and is gradually shifting from CS majors to Non-CS majors.

Assessment of Computational Thinking Among all studies surrounding the topic of CT education, assessment is underrepresented but fundamental topic in both research and education. Several scholars called for more effort into the investigation on the assessment of CT in higher education recently. As the scholars pointed out, there is no agreed-upon definition for CT and no standard form of assessment of CT.

According to Denning in his work published in 2019, abstraction at the level of loops, conditional decisions are elements of CT for begginers while professionals are required to have higher level CT competencies such as system design. However, that boundary for different levels of CT skills hardly exist in current work and it is still an exploration field for researchers and educators from different levels of educational settings to figure whether the boundary is needed or not and how the boundary can be set if neccessary.

Therefore, in her work, Xiaoling aims to explore, in the context of higher education: What composites different levels of CT skills (What to assess)? What methods to use to assess CT skills (How to assess)? And what feedback can be provided to the students to assisst their learning process (How to utilize the assessment)?


Picture of Xiaoling Zhang

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The Netherlands