June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Computers in Education
Proficiency in computer science skills is crucial for today’s students to succeed in STEM and the modern workforce. Despite this fact, few universities count computer science (CS) classes toward the core curriculum. Our university, a historically Hispanic- and minority-serving research-intensive university located in the American Southwest, recently began counting CS towards fulfilling the laboratory science requirement in the undergraduate core curriculum. This allowed us to consider the characteristics of the students who enrolled in a freshman-level CS course (N=31), and to identify assets they bring from their diverse life experiences that we might build upon in teaching them. We also sought student perceptions of existing curricular modules, in terms of ownership and creativity. Students completed pre-course surveys about their CS interests, beliefs, prior knowledge and experiences, along with demographics. They completed a brief survey to evaluate some of the modules. We examined descriptive statistics, then conducted tests of difference to identify students’ assets. We explored contrasts between 1) first generation college students and their traditional peers; and 2) students from historically underrepresented and well-represented groups in computer science. Students who were the first person in their family to attend college were significantly likelier to agree that CS is important for everyone to study but were likelier to admit to being nervous. This finding suggests that creating a supportive learning environment that enables students to experience relevant CS is integral to retaining first generation college students in CS. Students from underrepresented groups were significantly likelier to agree that CS is important for solving science problems and for helping people understand problem solving with technology. This finding suggests that our approach, which combines programming and modeling to solve science problems, may be a particularly productive fit for these students.
Svihla, V., & Lim, W., & Esterly, E. E., & Lee, I. A., & Moses, M. E., & Prescott, P., & Peele-Eady, T. B. (2017, June), Designing for assets of diverse students enrolled in a freshman-level computer science for all course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28127
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