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Understanding the Landscape of Diversity Efforts in K-12 Computing Using

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 3 Technical Session 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Adrienne Decker University at Buffalo, SUNY Orcid 16x16

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Adrienne Decker is a faculty member in the newly formed Department of Engineering Education at the University at Buffalo. She has been studying computing education and teaching for over 15 years, and is interested in broadening participation, evaluating the effectiveness of pre-college computing activities, and issues of assessment, particularly in the introductory programming courses. She has been actively involved with the Advanced Placement Computer Science A course since 2011, first serving as a reader, and as part of the development committee for the exam since 2015, serving as higher ed co-chair since 2018. She has received more than $1M in NSF funding for her work in computing education. Active in the computing education community, she is currently the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education board chair (2019-2022), has served as SIGCSE board treasurer (2016-2019), was program co-chair in 2014 and general co-chair in 2015 for the SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, and has served on various other program and review committees.

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Monica McGill Knox College Orcid 16x16

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Monica McGill is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Knox College. Her areas of scholarship are computer science education research with a current focus on diversity and improving the quality of research to examine effective practices on a large scale. She oversaw the recent development of __________, a website with manually curated data from over 500 articles and a list of over 90 instruments for evaluating computing education.

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There has been a large growth in the availability of computing in the K-12 sector for the last several years. Since 2014, the number of schools offering computer science to its students has increased from 20 to 44 out of 50 []. Both prior to and during this growth, we witnessed a large number of programs targeted to introduce computing to K-12 students, some with the goals of broadening participation by underrepresented minorities. In this presentation, we would like to better understand the scope of such efforts by using the curated data set of research articles from the years 2012-2018 inclusive available from is a resource center that houses over 500 curated article summaries from ten high quality peer reviewed conferences and journals. The curation process for the articles in this resource center allows for the capture of information about the intervention, its participants, and the research conducted on the intervention. Using this database of information, we can develop a picture of these interventions over the seven years and look for general trends or changes over time. For this presentation, we will focus on the information from the articles that deal with participant gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and disability status.

In terms of gender, we can look at several factors, the first being the genders of the actual participants reported in the studies. We can determine trends in gender participation in interventions and how often gender differences are being studied in the research.

In terms of race and ethnicity, we can determine the reported race and ethnicity information reported about the participants, and similarly we can determine if there are any trends for work targeted broadening participation in this area. For both of the above demographic characteristics, we will further blend the information with reported socioeconomic status of participants to develop a picture of what we may know about targeted interventions using these cross-sectional demographics.

In terms of disability information, it is known that this information is terribly under-reported in the data set. Less than 4% of all the articles in the database discuss the disability status of the participants of the intervention or any accommodations made to the intervention for various student disabilities. Since it is known that a number of students 14% of all students according to the National Center of Educational Statistics [], receive services for a learning disability, it is something that will occur in computing classrooms and needs to be adequately addressed. And the learning disabilities do not cover the other types of disabilities that students may enter a classroom with.

Another aspect of diversity in computing activities involves the instructor or leader of the intervention. Most articles in the resource center do not report demographic information about the instructors/leaders of the interventions. We will present what is known about the instructor demographics.

Overall, we are able to present a picture of what the research literature is telling us about interventions at the K-12 level in terms of student diversity for the past seven years. In this final part of the presentation, we will also bring in information about the activities themselves including when and where they are offered and what types of tools, languages, and environments the interventions employ.

It is our hope that the presentation and the data analysis presented sparks conversation within the session and afterward about ways in which we can both approach and report upon broadening participation initiatives. However, the reporting aspects is also key for any intervention, regardless of its goals for broadening participation. Only after we understand the makeup of the environment in which the activity or intervention takes place does the information about the intervention have context. With context, future researchers and practitioners can decide the applicability of the intervention to their circumstances or to be able to report on the efficacy of an intervention applied to different circumstances.

Decker, A., & McGill, M. (2021, January), Understanding the Landscape of Diversity Efforts in K-12 Computing Using Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . 10.18260/1-2--36134

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