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Board 193: A Collective Action Approach to Broadening Participation in Computing

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Alicia Nicki Washington Duke University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Nicki Washington is a professor of the practice of computer science and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Duke University and the author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field. She is currently the director of the Cultural Competence in Computing (3C) Fellows program and the NSF-funded Alliance for Identity-Inclusive Computing Education (AiiCE). She also serves as senior personnel for the NSF-funded Athena Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Her career in higher education began at Howard University as the first Black female faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. Her professional experience also includes Winthrop University, The Aerospace Corporation, and IBM. She is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University (B.S., ‘00) and North Carolina State University (M.S., ’02; Ph.D., ’05), becoming the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at the university and 2019 Computer Science Hall of Fame Inductee.

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Shaundra Bryant Daily Duke University Orcid 16x16

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Shaundra B. Daily is a professor of practice in Electrical and Computer Engineering & Computer Science at Duke University and Levitan Faculty Fellow, Special Assistant to the Vice Provosts. Prior to joining Duke, she was an associate professor with tenure at the University of Florida in the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering. She also served as an associate professor and interim co-chair in the School of Computing at Clemson University. Her research focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of technologies, programs, and curricula to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields. Currently, through this work, she is the Backbone Director for the Alliance for Identity-Inclusive Computing Education as well as Education and Workforce Director for the Athena AI Institute. Having garnered over $40M in funding from public and private sources to support her collaborative research activities, Daily’s work has been featured in USA Today, Forbes, National Public Radio, and the Chicago Tribune. Daily earned her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University – Florida State University College of Engineering, and an S.M. and Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab.

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Cecilé Sadler Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Cecilé Sadler is a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Media Lab with the Lifelong Kindergarten group. She is studying the intersection of computing and education in an effort to design equitable learning environments that promote creativity through technology development. Her research interests focus on investigating how computing can be leveraged to create spaces for young people of color to practice agency and develop their cultural identity through playful learning experiences. Cecilé is a graduate of North Carolina State University and Duke University, earning her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Engineering. She is on the Competence in Computing (3C) Fellows Program leadership team and senior personnel on the Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education (AiiCE).

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Despite enrollment increases in U.S. undergraduate computing departments, representation of historically excluded groups remains low. This lack of diversity is evident in academic and workplace cultures as well as biased and/or harmful technologies that negatively impact and exclude non-dominant identities. This NSF-funded project aims to increase the entry, retention, and course/degree completion rates of high-school and undergraduate students from groups that are historically marginalized in computing. Our collective impact approach to broadening participation convenes national leaders in K–16 computer science (CS) education to transform high-school and postsecondary CS education.

Core to our strategy is the growing area of identity-inclusive computing (IIC) research, which blends social science with CS to explore how identity impacts and is impacted by computing. IIC takes a holistic view of identity (i.e., at the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, ability, etc.) and pushes stakeholders to examine the impact of people, policies, and practices at the individual, group, classroom, and department levels.

In this poster, we present the results of two activities that have been implemented as a part of this project. First, we present the development of and audience reception to a project-wide, social media-based science communication initiative that introduces identity-inclusive computing topics to students, staff, educators, and administrators. This initiative utilizes a combination of short (< 3 minutes) videos and infographics to introduce concepts like the importance of name pronunciation and access to computing, white supremacy, and ableism in easily accessible ways. The videos have been posted on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram project accounts since February 2022. Using analytics such as likes, shares, and other interactions, we learned that the audience found the material engaging and used it in both professional development and classroom settings.

The second featured project presents a novel, two-year, virtual, cohort-based program that helps administrators, faculty, and staff identify and address systemic barriers impacting students in computing classes and departments. The program aims to: (1) increase participant knowledge of identity-related topics that are rooted in social science, (2) increase participant self-efficacy leading initiatives based on an understanding of these topics, and (3) increase the number of computing undergraduates completing identity-inclusive courses, modules, and other activities. The program infuses more social sciences (uncommon in computing curricula) into every four-year sequence, while also addressing participation disparities, toxic cultures, and dangerous designs that are pervasive in current technology. Our results indicate that participants develop a greater understanding of identity as well as increased comfort discussing identity-related topics and leading identity-inclusive activities. They were also able to reflect more on their own identities while building community with other cohort members worldwide.

While most prior efforts to broaden participation have centered marginalized students by helping them to adapt to and survive in unwelcoming, toxic, and systemically oppressive environments, the aforementioned activities (and those of the greater Alliance) shift this focus to ensure that staff, educators, and administrators have the tools necessary to remove systemic barriers to student success in computing.

Washington, A. N., & Daily, S. B., & Sadler, C. (2023, June), Board 193: A Collective Action Approach to Broadening Participation in Computing Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42585

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