Exploring the multifaceted roles of mathematics learning in predicting students' computational thinking competency

Silvia Wen Yu Lee*, Hsing Ying Tu, Guang Lin Chen, Hung Ming Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: There exist shared competencies between computational thinking (CT) and mathematics, and these two domains also mutually benefit from various teaching approaches. However, the linkages between mathematics and computational thinking lack robust empirical support, particularly from student-centered learning perspectives. Our study aimed to enhance our understanding of the connections between students' mathematics learning and computational thinking. To assess students' mathematics learning, we measured their beliefs about mathematics learning and their level of mathematical literacy (ML). Our hypothesis posited that students' beliefs concerning mathematics learning, encompassing their views on the nature of mathematics and their attitude towards the subject, can both directly and indirectly influence their CT, with ML serving as a mediating factor. Our data were gathered through surveys and tests administered to eighth- and ninth-grade students. Data were analyzed using partial least squares–structural equation modeling (PLS–SEM). Results: The evaluation of the measurement model indicated strong internal consistency for each construct. Both convergent and discriminant validity were also established. Upon assessing the structural model, it was found that beliefs about the nature of mathematics positively predicted attitudes towards mathematics, and this belief also indirectly predicted ML through positive attitudes towards mathematics. In addition, ML directly and positively predicted both CT subscales. Notably, a comprehensive mediating effect of ML on beliefs about mathematics learning and CT was identified in the analysis. Conclusions: This study advances the understanding of the relationships between mathematics learning and CT. We have further confirmed the importance of mathematical literacy in predicting CT and its mediating role between beliefs about mathematics learning and CT. It is suggested that teachers could promote students’ CT competence by enhancing their mathematical literacy or integrating mathematics and CT into the same learning activities. Finally, we propose that upcoming investigations treat CT assessments as formative constructs, diverging from their reflective counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
JournalInternational Journal of STEM Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec


  • Computational thinking
  • Mathematical literacy
  • Nature of mathematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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