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Research-practitioner Partnerships Supported by the Computer Science for All Program: A Systematic Evaluation

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Computers in Education 7 - Modulus 2

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

22

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37672

Download Count

48

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Paper Authors

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Rahman Adekunle

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John Kofi Eshirow Jr. University of Virginia

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John Eshirow is a first-generation fourth-year student at the University of Virginia majoring in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Economic Systems and a minor in Engineering Business. Originally from the Bronx, he grew to have a passion for understanding and developing the intersection of business, engineering, and technology. In the future, John hopes to be an investor and strategic advisor to companies whose mission is to solve a social good.

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Jacob Lam Herring University of Virginia

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Research assistant with the team since Summer 2020

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Sin Lin University of Virginia Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2529-969X

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Undergraduate Civil Engineering Student at the University of Virginia.

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Rider W. Foley University of Virginia

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Dr. Rider W. Foley is an assistant professor in the science, technology & society program in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. He is the principal investigator at University of Virginia on the ‘4C Project’ on Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM education with colleagues from Notre Dame, Xavier University and St. Mary’s College. He is the co-PI on the SCC Harlem project funded by the NSF that explores the digital divide and how community-engaged research can address computing needs in New York City. His research focuses on wicked problems that arise at the intersection of society and technology. Rider holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, and a Master's degree in Environmental Management from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from University of New Hampshire. Before earning his doctorate, he has worked for a decade in consulting and emergency response for Triumvirate Environmental Inc.

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Abstract

Today, the importance of computer science (CS) education is underscored by the lucrative job opportunities and market growth. Yet every year, many CS-related jobs remain unfilled and further, the demographics of the people taking CS jobs remain highly skewed toward young, White and Asian males. So while support for CS education grows across the nation, it is evident that equal opportunity for all students is still not a reality. This prompted the CS for All initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2016. The initiative aims to empower all students from all backgrounds to learn about CS and be equipped with the computational thinking skills needed to excel in the digital economy. One program that was created as part of the President’s initiative was the Research-Practitioner Partnership grants issued by the National Science Foundation. The program has four objectives: i) develop a connected community of practice; 2) develop and manage a participant-driven and multi-site research agenda; 3) convene a researcher evaluator working group to develop a process for advancing the shared-research agenda; and 4) collect qualitative and quantitative data about RPP’s implementation and common impact data. However, it is unclear who these RPP projects are reaching and to what extent those four objectives are being attained. Thus, this research entailed a systematic review of the funded RPP programs. The evaluation reveals that the projects are geographically disparate, yet focused on english-language learners in rural communities. The primary mechanism of action (or intervention) is to train educators using train-the-trainer models. Few programs offer tools that extend beyond the one-to-one researcher-practitioner relationships with a couple notable exceptions. This contributes to the lack of training resources that are vetted and supported for educators who aspire to start or augment CS-based curricula. This research suggests that the nascent RPP projects are having positive impacts on a limited number of schools, while the vast majority of schools remain underprepared to administer CS education. The focus on english-language learners suggests that immigrant and refugee populations will continue to remain underserved. This baseline evaluation will serve to support ex post facto assessments in the years to come. Secondarily, research needs to compare city and state-level programs against these national projects funded through the RPP program. There is a need to adapt CS education to be accessible to local school districts and to meet the needs of the demographically and culturally diverse residents and students.

Adekunle, R., & Eshirow, J. K., & Herring, J. L., & Lin, S., & Foley, R. W. (2021, July), Research-practitioner Partnerships Supported by the Computer Science for All Program: A Systematic Evaluation Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37672

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