Characterizing students’ 4C skills development during problem-based digital making

Xiaojing WENG, Zhihao CUI, Oi-Lam NG, Morris S. Y. JONG, Thomas K. F. CHIU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Amid the maker movement, educators are proposing various making activities with programmable artifacts to prepare students for coping with the challenges in the twenty-first century. Today, the “4C” skills—critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration—are regarded as significant learning outcomes in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education; however, few researchers have investigated the adoption of problem-based learning in K-12 programming education for developing students’ 4C skills. A case study was conducted in a “digital making” camp in which 54 upper elementary and lower secondary school students (10–14 years old) were engaged in harnessing a block-based programming tool, Scratch, to conduct various problem-solving tasks. Through triangulating multiple sources of qualitative data (including lesson plans, classroom field notes, videotaped lesson records, student solutions/artifacts, and post-intervention interviews), together with the microgenetic learning analysis, this study characterizes students’ 4C skills development in the process of problem-based digital making. We found that the problem-based digital making environment supported the students’ development of (a) critical thinking in the form of critical modeling and critical data handling; (b) creativity in the form of creative explorations, creative solutions, and creative expressions; and (c) communication and collaboration in the form of communicative scaffolding and collaborative debugging. Complementary evidence-based suggestions for scaffolding problem-based digital making activities are suggested. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-385
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Early online dateMar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


Weng, X., Cui, Z., Ng, O.-L., Jong, M. S. Y., & Chiu, T. K. F. (2022). Characterizing students’ 4C skills development during problem-based digital making. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 31, 372-385.


  • Digital making
  • Problem-based learning
  • Block-based programming
  • 4C skills
  • Maker education
  • STEM education


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