The Impact of Learning Computer Programming on the Development of High School Students Cognitive Abilities in the UAE
DARAGHMEH, HEBA ABDEL RAHMAN
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Now more than ever, computer science is becoming an integral discipline globally in a digitized world that links and supports other sciences and leads to different favorable career paths. It equips young generations with knowledge and skills required to lead the knowledge economy and gears them up to the fourth industrial revolution. The prominent change in the K-12 computer science education is characterized by great tendency to foster computational thinking as a set of transferrable skills. computer programming, as a major domain in Computer Science, is ultimately a virtuous strategy used to develop Computational Thinking skills for learners. This research aims primarily to investigate whether or not learning computer programming has an impact on the development of high school students’ cognitive abilities in the UAE. Twelve cognitive abilities were studied in a mixed-methods research; induction, general sequential reasoning, quantitative reasoning, memory span, working memory, visualization, speed rotation, closure speed, flexibility of closure, visual memory, spatial scanning, and serial perceptual integration. additionally, the researcher had studied students’ choices, perceptions, and classroom practices and linked them to their cognitive style indices. The results revealed that students demonstrated a significant improvement in their induction, quantitative reasoning, closure speed, visual memory, and serial perceptual integration cognitive abilities. furthermore, students demonstrated confidence and positive attitude toward learning programming. however, students’ awareness of the usefulness of learning programming and their motivation to learn it was not evident. there was no significant impact of gender on students’ choices of studying programming. on another hand, students’ cognitive style index who chose to study programming was more analytic than intuitive. yet, male students were more analytic than females. In conclusion, the study exposed urgency to teach computer programming as a core subject for high school students due to its positive impact on the development of their cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, classroom instructions and activities must be carefully designed to maximize that impact.