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University of California, San Diego

Computational Thinking for K-12 Educators: Conditional Loops and If Statements

University of California, San Diego via Coursera


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Want to make a game that ends when you "catch" an object by clicking on it? Or maybe you get points based on how close you came? You'll do that in this class! This class teaches the concepts of conditional loops and if/else statements. For each concept, we'll start by helping you connect real-world experiences you are already familiar with to the programming concept you are about to learn. Next, through a cognitively scaffolded process we'll engage you in developing your fluency with problem solving with repeat until loops, while loops, and if/else statements in a way that keeps frustration at a minimum. Along the way you will learn about the common challenges or "bugs" students have with these concepts as well as ways to help them find and fix those concepts. You'll also be guided in running classroom discussions to help students develop deeper understanding of these concepts. Finally, you'll learn how to support interactive learning experiences among your students with Peer Instruction. Additionally, you will create a resource for your classroom to support an equitable classroom.


  • Course Orientation
    • Meet Dr. Simon and fellow learners in this class! Find out what you’ll be doing and learning.
  • Conditional Loops
    • In this module we will learn about conditional loops and how they vary from fixed loops. We'll examine different examples of both loop types and look at some common challenges that you may come across. Finally you'll create your own conditional loop program and have the opportunity to create an assignment and conduct peer reviews.
  • More Conditional Loops
    • Now that you've gotten an introduction to conditional loops, we will further explore them and their variations. We will look at why some programs require conditional loops and discuss suggestions that will help students trace each program. Finally we'll learn about a variation on the repeat until loop, called the do-while loop.
  • If statements
    • In this module we'll get an introduction to conditionals, which are also known as if-else statements. First we'll examine some examples of if-else conditionals that exist in our everyday life. Next you will take a look at videos of completed programs and recreate the code. We'll end with some debugging tips and have you create your own if-else program assignment.
  • More If statements
    • Now that you have a basic understanding of conditionals, we look at some more complicated cases. You'll watch a video of how a teacher introduces the topic to her class and learn about conditionals with more than 2 scenarios. You'll also look at programs with two independent conditionals and learn how this varies from else-if statements. Finally, you'll analyze some misconceptions and challenges you initially had when learning about conditionals and create resources to help others learn about conditionals.
  • Equity & Pedagogy
    • In this module we take a look at peer instruction, an interactive teaching method that promotes learning. You will learn how peer instruction works and its benefits through various evidence-based studies. Then you'll determine how it can be applied to a computer science course and examine additional reasons peer instruction is beneficial in teaching computer science in class. You will have the opportunity to apply what you learn when creating a resource and peer reviewing others' work.

Taught by

Beth Simon


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