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Designing for assets of diverse students enrolled in a freshman-level computer science for all course

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First Year Computing Topics

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28127

Download Count

137

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Paper Authors

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Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4342-6178

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Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences program, and in the Chemical & Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions; this includes a two-strand research program focused on (1) authentic assessment, often aided by interactive technology, and (2) design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

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Woong Lim University of New Mexico

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Elizabeth Ellen Esterly University of New Mexico

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Irene A Lee MIT

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Melanie E Moses Department of Computer Science, University of New Mexico

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Paige Prescott University of New Mexico

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Paige Prescott has been a classroom science teacher, a curriculum designer and is currently a
PhD student at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information and Learning
Sciences department where she is interested in design experiences for both adults and students
as they relate to learning computer science and computational thinking. She regularly conducts
teacher professional development for teachers new to computer science and has helped to
develop online supports for their continued professional growth.

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Tryphenia B. Peele-Eady Ph.D. University of New Mexico

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Tryphenia Peele-Eady is Associate Professor in Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies, in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico, where she specializes in African American Education and Qualitative and Ethnographic Research.

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Abstract

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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