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Tapestry Workshops: Helping High School Teachers Grow and Diversify Computing

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Curricular Issues in Computing and Information Technolog Programs

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1132.1 - 23.1132.16



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Paper Authors


James P Cohoon University of Virginia

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James P. Cohoon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. Cohoon has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota, an M.S. in Computer Science from Pennsylvania State University, and a BS in Mathematics from Ramapo College of NJ. His research interests include algorithms, Computer Science Education, Diversity and Education, swarms, and VLSI physical design. His awards include the IEEE Computer Society Taylor Booth Education award. He is a member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society and a member of the ACM its special interests groups SIGCAS, SIGCSE, and SIGDA.

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J. McGrath Cohoon University of Virginia

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Joanne McGrath Cohoon: Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Virginia and Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT). Cohoon conducts nationwide empirical studies of gender and computing. Her results are reported in scholarly journals and an award-winning book, co-edited with William Aspray -- Women and Information Technology, Research on Underrepresentation. Cohoon's work at NCWIT involves conducting, translating, applying, disseminating, and evaluating research. She also serves on the CRA-W Board, offers professional development to computing high school teachers, trains and supervises consultants, and collaborates on increasing women’s participation in volunteer computing.

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Luther A Tychonievich University of Virginia

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Luther Tychonievich has an M.S. in computer science from Brigham Young University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia specializing in theoretic computer science, algorithms, and computer science pedagogy. His technical work has focused on provably-correct algorithms in computational geometry, robotics, graphics, higher-dimensional simulation, and artificial intelligence. He has worked with a variety of innovative introductory CS courses aimed at greater diversity, including the design and execution of courses aimed at the college, high-school, middle-school, and elementary-school levels.

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Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants

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Catherine E. Brawner is President of Research Triangle Educational Consultants. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from NC State University in 1996. She also has an MBA from Indiana University (Bloomington) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She specializes in evaluation and research in engineering education, computer science education, teacher education, and technology education. Dr. Brawner is a founding member and former treasurer of Research Triangle Park Evaluators, an American Evaluation Association affiliate organization and is a member of the American Educational Research Association and American Evaluation Association, in addition to ASEE. Dr. Brawner is also an Extension Services Consultant for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) and, in that role, advises computer science departments on diversifying their undergraduate student population. She currently serves as the principal evaluator for the Teachers Attracting Girls to Computer Science project which aims to increase and diversify the student population studying computer science in high school. Dr. Brawner previously served as principal evaluator of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Coalition. She remains an active researcher with MIDFIELD, studying gender issues, transfers, and matriculation models in engineering.

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Tapestry Workshops: Helping High School CS Teachers Attract and Retain StudentsBackground: The National Science Foundation’s ongoing CS10K initiative aims to have 10,000teachers teaching computer science (CS) in 10,000 high schools by 2016. In 2011, the AdvancedPlacement Computer Science (AP-CS) exam was offered in 2677 high schools. Fewer than23,000 students took the AP CS-A exam in 2011 (compared with over 340,000 who took an APCalculus exam). Except for Physics-E&M, the AP-CS exam has the fewest number of takers ofany science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) AP exam. In addition, the AP-CS exam has the worst gender balance of any AP exam given by the College Board with womencomprising only 19% of the test takers. The College Board, National Science Foundation, andComputer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) are working together both to create a new AP-CS curriculum and exam, and to promote a new Exploring Computer Science curriculum. Bothof these initiatives are designed to help teachers present computing in a more accessible format.The Tapestry Workshop Project: The Tapestry Workshops were created as an effort to expandhigh school computer science by helping teachers inspire diverse students to learn computerscience. The Tapestry workshops are offered during the summer to high school computer scienceteachers and other educators (e.g., principals and math teachers) who want to initiate or expandcomputer science instruction in their schools. Built on a successful model developed at theUniversity of Virginia, Tapestry Workshops have been offered at seven additional universitiesover the past two summers. During Tapestry Workshops, teachers learn effective pedagogicalpractices for teaching computer science to all students. In addition to pedagogy, teachers areintroduced to recruiting strategies that encourage students, particularly women and minorities, totake computer science classes. Teachers are also presented with information that they can use toencourage their schools and school districts to offer high quality computer science at the AP andpre-AP levels.In this paper, we discuss how Tapestry workshops are organized; the materials that are presentedin the workshops; the partnership with CS departments at higher education institutions aroundthe country to offer Tapestry workshops; and results from our ongoing evaluation of the Tapestryworkshop projects. Our evaluation results have shown that teachers leave the workshop feelingenergized and excited about teaching computer science. Over 95% of attendees strongly agreethat they would recommend the workshops to a colleague in a post-workshop survey. Mostindicate that they will change their pedagogical practices to be more engaging and inclusive;follow-up surveys show that almost all attendees now actively recruit new students to theircomputer science classes.

Cohoon, J. P., & Cohoon, J. M., & Tychonievich, L. A., & Brawner, C. E. (2013, June), Tapestry Workshops: Helping High School Teachers Grow and Diversify Computing Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22517

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