Report of the Study Group on Computational Thinking (September 2016)

Dear MIT students and faculty,

Last April, the two of us charged a study group consisting of Profs. Eric Grimson (EECS; Chair), Deepto Chakrabarty (Physics), Michael Cuthbert (Music and Theater Arts), Peko Hosoi (Mechanical Engineering), Caitlin Mueller (Architecture), James Orlin (Sloan) and Troy van Voorhis (Chemistry) with conducting an in-depth study of what algorithmic reasoning and computational thinking mean in the context of the education of MITís undergraduates across all five schools.

The Study Group met extensively over the late spring and through the summer. They explored how faculty and students across the full breadth represented by our five schools use computational thinking; the intellectual frameworks employed in computational thinking and algorithmic reasoning; the extent to which these are already being taught; and whether they believe MIT should acknowledge algorithmic and computational thinking as an explicit expectation of all our graduates. In addition, we asked the Study Group to develop a list of possible options for accomplishing any goals for the computational education of MIT undergraduates that they articulate.

We are pleased to make the draft of the Study Groupís report available to the entire MIT community, here. (The complete charge to the Study Group can be found at the end of the draft report.)

We now ask that all of you -- students and faculty -- read the draft report and share your input with the Study Group via email to Responses received by October 26, 2016 will be considered by the Study Group as they integrate feedback and prepare their final report.

The two of us are thinking about next steps after the Study Group hears from you and finalizes their report. As soon as possible, Dean Freeman plans to hold conversations with faculty and departments interested in developing subjects that use computational thinking in the context of their major, along the lines described by the Study Group. The report will also be considered by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, initially as it provides input to the Study Group and later as it considers how best to proceed.

We would like to thank the Study Group for their work. We expect that this draft, and the final report that will follow, will initiate an important Institute-wide conversation. And, it will do so from a starting point that reflects a thorough, sustained deliberation among the seven members as they gathered, considered, and synthesized multiple perspectives; no one of them -- and we think no one among all of us -- could have done this alone. Although much remains, we are grateful to them for bringing the discussion to this point.


Krishna Rajagopal
Professor of Physics
Chair of the MIT Faculty

Dennis M. Freeman
Professor of Electrical Engineering
Dean for Undergraduate Education


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