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A Flipped Active-learning Class to Support Diverse Students in a Large Introduction to Programming Class

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Computing Technology Applications-II

Tagged Division

Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Laura Kay Dillon Michigan State University

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Laura Dillon is a professor and past Chair of Computer Science at Michigan State University (MSU); before joining MSU, she was a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research centers on formal methods in software engineering, specification, and analysis of concurrent software systems. An ACM Distinguished Scientist, Laura has served on numerous editorial boards, program committees, funding panels, and advisory committees—most recently, as Vice Chair of ACM SIGSOFT and General Chair of the 38th International Conference on Software Engineering. She has participated in many CRAW and ACM mentoring events; is a founding adviser of MSU Women in Computing, the MSU ACM-W Chapter; and co-led TechKobwa, a technology camp for secondary-school teachers and female students in Rwanda, for three summers. She was awarded the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

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Michelle Slattery Peak Research

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Michelle Slattery has more than 30 years’ experience as a professional evaluator working with diverse clients on complex project evaluations. Her business, Peak Research LLC, is celebrating 25 years of providing services to evaluate S-STEM, BPC, RED, IGERT, and I3 grants for the National Science Foundation. She is an Extension Services Consultant to the National Center for Women & Information Technology and has helped more than a dozen universities increase recruiting and retention of women in their technology programs with data driven methods and evaluation support. Four of her clients are NCWIT NEXT Award winners for the Extension Services outcomes they achieved. Michelle has an M.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences with Human Factors specialization. Her research interests include the evaluation of STEM projects and programs, diversity studies, strategic planning, and data visualization.

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The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) introduced the Computational Thinking Lab (CTL) to determine if a 1-credit support class for students enrolled in Intro CS could improve persistence in the major, especially for women and minority students. At that time, females made up just 12% of declared CS majors and accounted for just 8% of CS graduates; only 4% of majors identified as African American and 4% as Hispanic. Attrition was high for all students (18% for males and 19% females). Students who participated in the CTL were more likely to complete Intro CS with a passing grade or even an A. They also experienced significant improvements in their confidence, their feelings of belonging in the major, their intent to graduate and pursue careers in CS, and their understanding and expertise in CS. Retention of female CS majors at MSU improved from 78% to 93%. Retention of male CS majors at MSU improved from 87% to 91%. While these improvements are not due solely to effects of the CTL, students who participated in focus groups indicate that the CTL helped them persist in the Intro CS class and develop a solid foundation of knowledge, skills, and abilities, among other benefits. This paper describes the goals for the CTL class and how they were achieved. It documents the changes in course grades, attitudes, attrition, and graduation that have been achieved since the inception of the CTL support class. It reports student observations that help demystify the changes the CTL achieved with participants.

Dillon, L. K., & Slattery, M. (2018, June), A Flipped Active-learning Class to Support Diverse Students in a Large Introduction to Programming Class Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29677

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