Beyond Interests to Values: Drawing African-American teens into CS
I’m eager to hear the discussion about Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman’s paper to appear in the August CACM (linked below). The paper is on the Glitch project that I’ve talked about here. Betsy and Amy are addressing a problem that many working in Broadening Participation in Computing are facing, and that we’ve had with Georgia Computes! We’ve had dramatic success in drawing women and Hispanic students into computer science — and we’ve barely budged the African-American numbers. Why? Betsy’s results suggest that GaComputes initiatives play to students’ interests, but to really get students to dig into CS, we need to play to their values. Glitch has been successful because they’ve figured out what African-American teen men in Atlanta most value, and then play to those values. I’d bet that Betsy would say that the video games in Glitch aren’t why she’s had so much success — that’s an interest. It’s because she pays them and they’re training to be game-testers which is a real job. Those are values, beyond just interests. They start their paper with a bold claim:
Computer science is not that difficult but wanting to learn it is.