Posts tagged ‘BPC’

Could our CS enrollment boom and bust cycle be the result of inability to manage the boom?

I wrote my Blog@CACM post for January on the rising enrollment in computer science and how that is making irrelevant our advances in retaining students (see article here). Retention is simply not the problem in US CS programs today.

But thinking about the 1980’s and today (as described in this blog post), I began wondering if our boom-and-bust cycles might be related to our inability to manage the boom.

  • First, we get a huge increase in enrollment due to some external factor (like the introduction of the personal computer).
  • Then, we have to manage the rise in enrollment. We try to hire faculty, but we can’t bring them in fast enough. We stop worrying about high-quality, high-retention education — we need the opposite! We set up barriers and GPA requirements.
  • Word gets out: CS is hard. The classes are too difficult. It’s too competitive. Minority group students suffer from the imposter phenomenon and leave faster than majority students.
  • Result: Enrollment drops. Diversity decreases.
  • Then the next external factor happens (like the invention of the graphical Web browser), and we start the sequence again.

If we could give everyone a seat who wanted one, and we continued to focus on retention and high-quality education, might we actually have a steady-state of a large CS class? Could our inability to manage the load actually be causing the bust side of the cycle?

February 4, 2015 at 7:36 am 6 comments

Why there’s no such thing as an ‘F’ in computer science: The Fear Factor in CS (and other things we learn)

Nice article by my colleague Ayanna Howard and Oracle’s Alison Derbenwick Miller. I’m teaching Media Computation again this semester, and it seems to me that the biggest barrier for my students is simply fear. They don’t type code because they’re afraid of failure. They don’t try to understand the code because they’re afraid they can’t.

It’s not just CS, of course. At my last ukulele meetup, I sat next to a woman who brought her ukulele, but wouldn’t take it out of the case. She just sang the songs along with us. When I encouraged her to bring it out, she said, “I’m just a beginner. I’ll learn to play it first, then I’ll play along.” That gets the process wrong — it’s playing along that leads to learning to play it. But I was struck by her body language and voice when she made the statement. She was deeply frightened — of making mistakes and being ridiculed for it, I guess.

I get that. I did my first public performance singing and playing the ukulele in December. (Christmas carols are pretty easy, and are completely acceptable at a December open mic night.) I was so frightened. I finished one song (“Silent Night”), then invited my daughters up to sing with me (“Jingle Bells”) to help me get through it (thanks to them for the support!), but still couldn’t get past one verse. My legs and arms were shaking so badly I didn’t think I could go on. Fear is powerful.

Ayanna and Alison point out something important and real that we have to help students get past.

They will give you myriad reasons, among them that the work just isn’t interesting, that the cool kids don’t do it, and fear – fear it’s too hard, fear they’ll be ridiculed as “nerds,” fear of being exposed as an intellectual fraud, or ironically, as the “too smart kid,” fear of failure.

Fear is an awful thing. It’s a four-letter “f” word that holds incredible power – power to keep us from doing what is good, what is right. Power to stop us from taking risks. Power to maintain the status quo, to stop disruption, to inhibit change. Power to stymie innovation, and to limit opportunity.

Fear is bad. Fear stands between us and a better world. It stands between us and our better selves.

via Why there’s no such thing as an ‘F’ in computer science | The Hechinger Report.

February 2, 2015 at 8:19 am 13 comments

GenderIT Conference at Penn: Papers due Feb 20

GenderIT 2015 Advancing Diversity

Join us April 24-25 at the University of Pennsylvania!

http://www.genderit2015.info/

In IT and technology-related fields at large, diversity has been a longstanding and troubling issue. Particularly, girls, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in these fields; few engage in STEM-related classes or enter IT professions. What can we do to address these challenges? What do we know about interests, images, and intersections around gender, race, and IT? How can we design K-12 education and craft career trajectories so that more girls and minorities express interest and participate in IT? What are some promising and innovative designs and interventions? How are trends in related fields, such as gaming, connected to larger IT developments? In GenderIT 2015, we will set out to examine and discuss these issues and more around three focal areas:

–       Promoting computer science education in K-12

–       Understanding developments around gender and gaming

–       Developing new interventions and applications for STEM

Call for Papers and Posters

We invite researchers, designers, and practitioners to participate in the conference through contributions from your own work. Relevant topics include:

+ gender specific aspects of IT appropriation and use

+ the role of the new media for learning

+ gender awareness in computer science curricula and IT trainings

+ the relation of gender and IT in education, training, and work

+ the significance of gender for career choices and qualification paths in the IT domain

We welcome submissions following ACM format in the form of long papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages) or posters (2 pages).

SUBMISSION DATES

▪   Submissions: February 20, 2015

▪   Notifications: March 5, 2015

▪   Camera-Ready: March 20, 2015

SUBMISSION FORMATS

▪   Paper (long and short): A long paper should consist of no more than 8 pages; a short paper should be no more than 4 pages. This is including figures, references and appendices, and an abstract of no more than 150 words. Longer submissions will automatically be rejected. The submission must be original; it cannot be published or be in a review process elsewhere. Long and short papers will be published in the ACM Digital Library.

▪   Poster: Posters are for new work, preliminary findings, designs or educational projects. They are accompanied by a two-page abstract. This text should articulate out the aspect of the work that is apt to lead to productive discussion with conference participants in the poster session. Posters will be published in the in the ACM Digital Library.

All submissions must adhere to the formatting guidelines in the ACM proceedings template. All submissions will be blind-reviewed. Please prepare your submission accordingly.

SUBMISSION SYSTEM

Please submit your papers for GIT 2015 here. The paper submission system is supported by Easy Chair and requires the creation of an “author” account for all submissions.

January 31, 2015 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

MIT Computer Scientists Demonstrate the Hard Way That Gender Still Matters

I met Elena Glassman at the ICER Doctoral Consortium in 2013.  Her article below on her “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit is an interesting commentary on gender bias in computing.

As it turned out, people were extremely interested in our AMA, though some not for the reasons we expected. Within an hour, the thread had rocketed to the Reddit front page, with hundreds of thousands of pageviews and more than 4,700 comments. But to our surprise, the most common questions were about why our gender was relevant at all. Some people wondered why we did not simply present ourselves as “computer scientists.” Others questioned if calling attention to gender perpetuated sexism. Yet others felt that we were taking advantage of the fact that we were women to get more attention for our AMA.

The interactions in the AMA itself showed that gender does still matter. Many of the comments and questions illustrated how women are often treated in male-dominated STEM fields. Commenters interacted with us in a way they would not have interacted with men, asking us about our bra sizes, how often we “copy male classmates’ answers,” and even demanding we show our contributions “or GTFO [Get The **** Out]”. One redditor helpfully called out the double standard, saying, “Don’t worry guys – when the male dog groomer did his AMA (where he specifically identified as male), there were also dozens of comments asking why his sex mattered. Oh no, wait, there weren’t.”

via MIT Computer Scientists Demonstrate the Hard Way That Gender Still Matters | WIRED.

January 30, 2015 at 7:45 am Leave a comment

New International Conference: Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT)

Shared from Tiffany Barnes, with her permission.

The engagement of diverse people in an endeavor drives creativity and innovation, but in computing and STEM fields, broadening participation is also a matter of equity. It is critical that we, as the computer science education community, improve inclusion of diverse people, especially those from underrepresented populations. Globally, underrepresentation differs regionally and culturally by gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic advantage, physical, mental, and cognitive ability, and LGBT status. The need to support diversity becomes even more important for disenfranchised groups with limited legal rights and protections. Lest we think that this is a minority-only issue, consider developing countries or the poor of every nation, with little to no access to education and resources, where computing could help build the economy, health, education, and financial systems.

We invite you to join IEEE Computer’s newly-established Special Technical Community on Broadening Participation (stcbp.org) to create a collective global strategy to research and improve participation and inclusion in computing.

Research on Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT) is the focus of our first international meeting. Co-located with the STARS Celebration in Charlotte, NC, just after ICER, RESPECT 2015 will be a premier research conference with research papers, experience reports (due March 27), posters and panels (due June 5). We invite all interdisciplinary work that draws on computer science, education, learning sciences, and the social sciences to help us build a strong community, theory, and foundation for broadening participation research.

We hope you will get involved today by joining stcbp.org, submitting to stcbp.org/RESPECT2015, attending RESPECT 2015 August 13-14, or contacting the STC-BP chairs Tiffany Barnes, tiffany.barnes@gmail.com, or George K. Thiruvathukal, gkt@cs.luc.edu.

January 24, 2015 at 8:27 am Leave a comment

New solicitation for NSF STEM-C: Emphasis on K-12 and Integration with Other STEM Disciplines

The new NSF STEM-C solicitation is out: See http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15537/nsf15537.htm.

The introduction to the new solicitation is visionary and speaks of the power of computing in STEM and for all students.  Here’s just the first paragraph:

The STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Partnerships program seeks to advance a 21st century conceptualization of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that includes computing. The “+ Computing” notation emphasizes that computing is integral to the practice of all the other STEM disciplines. In this solicitation, computing refers to the whole set of fundamental concepts and skills that will allow students to creatively apply and adapt computation across a range of application domains, to “bend digital technology to one’s needs, purposes, and will.”

The focus of this solicitation is primarily on integration of computing with other STEM education disciplines, and secondarily, on computing education in K-12 (including teachers).  The prioritization is pretty clear from the budget limits:

The maximum total budget for Track 1: Integration of Computing in STEM Education awards is $2.5 million for Design and Development awards, $1.25 million for Exploratory Integration awards, and $250,000 for Field-Building Conferences and Workshops. The maximum total budget for Track 2: Computing Education Knowledge and Capacity Building awards is $600,000 for Research on Education and Broadening Participation awards and $1.0 million for CS 10K awards.

You can get up to $1.25M USD to explore integration of computing in STEM ($2.5M to design and develop), but at most $1M to put computing into schools and at most $600K to do research on computing education and broadening participation.  We might argue about the ratios, but in the end, both tracks and all the types of proposals have enough funding to do important work that needs to happen.

January 19, 2015 at 8:06 am 3 comments

African-American students preference for graphical or text-based programming languages depended on career goals

One of the results from Betsy DiSalvo’s dissertation on Glitch (see a post on that work) that I found most interesting was that there wasn’t a clear winner between graphical, drag-and-drop programming (Alice) and text-based programming (Python).  She has now written up that part of the dissertation work, and it’s linked below.

Cursor_and_Betsy-Alice-Python_pdf__page_3_of_4_

To determine appropriate computer science curricula, educators sought to better understand the different affordances of teaching with a visual programming language (Alice) or a text-based language (Jython). Although students often preferred one language, that language wasn’t necessarily the one from which they learned the most.

via IEEE Xplore Abstract – Graphical Qualities of Educational Technology: Using Drag-and-Drop and Text-Based Programs for Intro….

January 12, 2015 at 8:39 am 4 comments

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