Computational thinking and mathematical thinking: digital literacy in mathematics curricula


In technology-rich mathematics education, mathematics teachers nowadays experience two related challenges: fostering both mathematical thinking, central in the new Dutch mathematics curricula, and computational thinking, stressed in the Dutch informatics curriculum and the reform. The main research question of the proposed study is: How can a teaching-learning strategy, focusing on the use of digital tools, support 16-17 years old pre-university students in developing computational thinking skills related to mathematical thinking in pure and applied mathematics courses?
The consortium, consisting of five schools, two universities and a curriculum development institute, sets up a theory-informed design study. This study includes four phases: an inventory phase, consisting of a literature study and an expert interview study, a first design cycle in which two 5-lesson interventions are designed and piloted, a second design cycle phase, in which the revised intervention is field-tested and learning outcomes are assessed, and a concluding phase on synthesizing, disseminating and upscaling results.
The study’s results include a theory-informed, practice-oriented list of key elements of computational thinking related to mathematical thinking; empirically validated learning activities for upper secondary pre-university education students in pure and applied mathematics courses that promote these key aspects; instruments to assess the related learning outcomes; a teacher guide on learning activities targeting computational thinking and mathematical thinking using digital tools; a policy document to inform upcoming curriculum reform. We disseminate these results on a national and an international scale using scientific and professional channels; also, a closing conference and a professional development course are delivered.


Publications for the general public

  • S.P. van Borkulo, M. Kallia, P. Drijvers, E. Barendsen, J. Tolboom(2019): Computational Thinking and Mathematical Thinking: Digital Literacy in Mathematics Curricula
  • S.P. van Borkulo, P. Drijvers(2019): Computational Thinking & Mathematical Thinking: Two Sides of the Same Coin?


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. J.L.J. Tolboom

Affiliated with

SLO Nationaal Expertisecentrum voor Leerplanontwikkeling


01/02/2019 to 30/11/2021