You can improve logical thinking with programming activities that engage learners. Being logical is a trademark of programmers and is one of the most valued soft skills they can possess. Unlike hard skills which are technical abilities such as how to write code, soft skills are traits that describe a person’s work habits. They are important because they influence how a person approaches a task, solves problems, interacts with others, and resolves conflicts. Not only are soft skills beneficial in the workplace, but they are also valuable in daily life. This second article in the soft skills blog series is about designing programming activities that improve logical thinking.
7 Essential Soft Skills Every Programmer Needs
- team player
Qualities of a Logical Thinker
Logical thinking is an important trait in a programmer. It is also referred to as analytical reasoning, abstract thinking, or critical thinking. People that can think logically are able to analyze problems and devise solutions. This is not only valuable when developing programs but is vital to any situation that requires rational thought. People who are logical:
- analyze information or resources related to a task
- carefully observe what is happening
- study information objectively to determine if it is relevant or true
- focus on facts not emotions
- develop solutions to problems based on facts
- outline ideas clearly by breaking them down into parts
- pay attention to details
- test the effectiveness of a solution and make revisions
Improve Logical Thinking with Programming Activities
Programming includes logic. In fact, logic is what allows a program to make decisions and perform calculations. It can trigger an action, repeat a series of steps, or end a process. The ability to write a program that can control output and manipulate data are the hard skills or mechanics of programming. A programmer must know how to apply logic to sequence code, write if and else statements, direct events using logical operators, and create formulas. This knowledge is essential.
However, the soft skills of logical thinking are different than the logic in physical code. When it comes to work habits and personality traits, being logical is how the programmer approaches the programming task. It is how they analyze data, form decisions, devise a plan, implement a solution, evaluate outcomes, and justify their actions. They do not go with their gut or respond to their emotions. Instead, they work towards a coded solution rationally. Being logical is a soft skill you can develop in your students with programming activities.
Analyze the Problem
Since the main objective of a programming unit is to have students develop original programs, the first step is to have them analyze the problem. They need to understand the programming task and program requirements. This is an active process that applies logical thinking. It includes gathering information, examining resources, and determining gaps in skills or knowledge. There are several teaching methods you can use to help students be logical.
Formulate a Plan
Now that students have analyzed the problem they are ready to devise a solution. In this step, students brainstorm ideas and organize their thoughts into a plan. To save time, you may prefer to have students start coding right away. However, resist this urge. Formulating a plan demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the task. Moreover, this step provides an opportunity to identify students that may require assistance. For those that are struggling the good news is that logical thinking is teachable, especially when it relates to problem solving and programming.