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Gaining Insights into the Effects of Culturally Responsive Curriculum on Historically Underrepresented Students’ Desire for Computer Science

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session - Understanding and Changing Engineering Culture

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topics

Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee

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Paper Authors


Omoju Miller UC Berkeley

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Omoju Miller is the lead researcher on the “Hiphopathy” project at UC Berkeley. She has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science (2001) and a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2004) from the University of Memphis. She has over a decade of experience in the technology industry. She is currently a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley in Computer Science Education. Omoju also served in a volunteer capacity as an advisor to the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, where she focuses on inclusion and diversity in technology (2012).

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This work presents a study investigating socio-curricular factors that lead historically underrepresented students’ retention and attrition in introductory Computer Science at UC Berkeley. The Beauty and Joy of Computing (CS10), an introductory CS course for non-majors and the Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (CS61A), an introductory CS course for majors are investigated as critical gateway courses in the introductory to Computer Science pipeline.

To investigate the experience of students in both classes, a mixed-methods formative research study was conducted. Findings from the study are presented along the following dimensions: The role of mentorship, the role of family in choosing computing, understanding outsider experience in computing, the role of belonging, the experience of programming, understanding self-reported efficacy, understanding self-reported computational efficacy, the role of the social implications of computing curriculum, and finally the impact of gendered ideas of intelligence. To learn about the effects of curriculum on the decision to progress along the computer science pipeline, investigation was done on the design of CS10, benchmarked against the approach taken by CS61A. Furthermore, a transitional learning module called Besides Blocks, whose apotheosis is a culturally-relevant-Python-Data-lab, a learning framework for the computational exploration of data, was created to correct the impedance matched identified between the two classes. Preliminary results show agreement with theoretical predictions and significant improvement over previous efforts.

The work presented here has profound implications for future studies of how culturally resonant curriculum may one day help solve the problem of low-representation of female and ethnic-minority students in the field of Computer Science.

Miller, O. (2016, June), Gaining Insights into the Effects of Culturally Responsive Curriculum on Historically Underrepresented Students’ Desire for Computer Science Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26997

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