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Weaving a Computer Science Tapestry: Results of a Workshop Promoting the Recruitment and Retention of Girls in High School Computer Science

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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

Computational/CS Initiatives

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1363.1 - 23.1363.13



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Paper Authors


David R. Wright North Carolina State University

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Dr. David Wright earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University, where he continues to work as a Research Associate. His research interests include Computer Science and Software Engineering education and curriculum, improving diversity in Computer Science, security and privacy in computing systems, research and professional ethics in Computer Science and Software Engineering, and the pedagogical applications of cloud computing and virtualization. Dr. Wright's current responsibilities include teaching introductory programming and ethics in computing classes, providing logistical and organizational support for large-scale research projects, and supervising graduate and undergraduate student research activities.

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Weaving a Computer Science Tapestry: Promoting the Recruitment and Retention of Girls in High School Computer Science Abstract Results of the annual Taulbee survey reported by the Computing Research Association indicatethat enrollment and degree production in Computer Science (CS) bachelor’s degree programshave increased over the past four years while enrollment of and degrees awarded to women havecontinued to decline. The reasons for this decline are rooted in the years before students reach thecollege level. A lack of prior computing experience, unenthusiastic teachers, gender stereotypes, anduninformed parents and administrators are the most frequently suggested reasons for the continuedlow participation of female and minority students in high school computing courses. High schoolcomputer science teachers are in a critical position to guide girls and other under-representedminorities into computing, but are often ill-prepared to meet these challenges. Teachers have manyprofessional development opportunities to help them improve their classroom skills. However, fewprovide teachers with strategies and techniques to help them recruit and retain students, particularlygirls and minorities, in their CS classes, and even fewer provide them with resources to help overcomecommon stereotypes and convince parents, peers, and school administrators of the importance andopportunities a CS education offers. This paper reports on a workshop designed to prepare high school CS teachers to meet thechallenges of recruiting and retaining a diverse student population in their CS courses. We had threeoverall goals for the workshop: 1) introduce pedagogical strategies designed to dispel stereotypesand be engaging and accessible to all students; 2) demonstrate proven strategies and techniques forrecruiting and retaining more students, and especially girls and minorities, into CS courses; and 3)provide a variety of reliable, research-based resources that outline the importance of CS educationand the opportunities the discipline can offer to use when talking to students, parents, other teachers,and school administrators. These goals were realized in sessions that focused on evidence-backedrecruiting strategies, creative lessons that engage all students, ways to effectively use new technologiesand cutting-edge research in high school classrooms, as well as high-quality presentation and printmaterials that the participants could take with them to illustrate the importance of women andminorities in computing-based professions. We present evidence of the immediate success of this workshop through an overview of each ofthe workshop sessions, a comparison of the participants’ expectations as stated before the workshopwith the results of a formal evaluation and assessment independently conducted at the end of theworkshop, and an assessment of the workshop from the invited speakers’ perspectives. We alsodiscuss the lessons learned in the organization and production of this workshop from both technicaland participant perspectives and how we plan to apply these lessons in future iterations of thisworkshop. Author’s note: A formal follow-up assessment is scheduled to be performed in the late spring of2013. While these results would be too late to incorporate into the final version of the paper (ifaccepted), we would be able to present them at the conference.

Wright, D. R. (2013, June), Weaving a Computer Science Tapestry: Results of a Workshop Promoting the Recruitment and Retention of Girls in High School Computer Science Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22748

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