Reading, writing and — refactoring code?  Many professors of computer science say college graduates in every major should understand software fundamentals, the New York Times reports. They don’t argue that everyone needs to be a skilled programmer. Rather, they seek to teach “computational thinking” — the general concepts programming languages employ. In 2006, Jeannette M. Wing, head of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote a manifesto arguing that basic literacy should be redefined to include understanding of computer processes. “Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists,” she wrote. “To reading, writing and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability.”

There is little agreement within the field, however, about what exactly are the core elements of computational thinking. Nor is there agreement about how much programming students must do, if any, in order to understand it…

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