Posts tagged ‘GaComputes’
I agree with the author of this recent NYTimes post. Women do seem to be more attracted to socially meaningful work than males. I don’t think that’s the complete solution, though. We have evidence that women are more likely to pursue studies in computer science if encouraged (see Joanne Cohoon’s work) and if they feel a sense of “belonging” with the department (see our work in Georgia). If we want more women in engineering, we have to think about recruitment (as this article does) and retention (as other work does).
Why are there so few female engineers? Many reasons have been offered: workplace sexism, a lack of female role models, stereotypes regarding women’s innate technical incompetency, the difficulties of combining tech careers with motherhood. Proposed fixes include mentor programs, student support groups and targeted recruitment efforts. Initiatives have begun at universities and corporations, including Intel’s recent $300 million diversity commitment.
But maybe one solution is much simpler, and already obvious. An experience here at the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves. That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering.
This week is the SIGCSE 2015 Technical Symposium, the largest computing education conference in the US, perhaps in the world. About 1300 people will be heading to Kansas City for four days of discussion, workshops, and talks. See the conference page here and the program here.
Barbara Ericson and I will be presenting at several events:
- I’m speaking on a panel Thursday afternoon at 3:45 on human-subjects review of experiment protocols (by Institutional Review Boards (IRB)) and the challenges we’ve had in working in high schools and working on cross-institutional projects.
- Barb and I will be hosting with Rick Adrion a Birds of a Feather (BOF) session on state-level change at 6:30 Thursday. This is part of our ECEP work.
- On Friday morning at 10 am, we’ll be showing our electronic book (ebook) for high school teachers interested in learning CS Principles. The first public showing was at the NSF BPC Community meeting in January, but that was to a small audience. We’ll be presenting at the NSF Showcase at 10 am on the exhibition floor.
- Barb is speaking on Friday afternoon in a panel at 3:30 on activities for K-12 CS outreach.
- On Friday night, Barb is running her famous “How to run a computing summer camp workshop.”
As usual, Georgia Tech is sending several of us (not just Barb and me). One of my PhD students, Briana Morrison, is on a panel on Flipped Classrooms Thursday 1:45-3 pm in 3501G. Another of my PhD students, Miranda Parker, is part of a BOF Preparing Undergraduates to Make the Most of Attending CS Conferences 6:30-7:20 on Thursday evening. Our colleague, Betsy DiSalvo, is speaking Friday morning 10:45-12 on a panel Research, Resources and Communities: Informal Ed as a Partner in Computer Science Education in 2505A.
This is one of my shorter stays at a SIGCSE conference. I’ll be coming in late Wednesday and leaving Friday afternoon. I’ve been traveling way too much lately (NSF BPC Community meeting in January, talk at Penn in early February, Tapia conference in Boston two weeks ago, AP CS Principles review meeting in Chicago this last week). I am fortunate to be teaching Media Computation this semester, and I hate to miss so many lectures. More, it’s hard on our family when we’re both gone. Barb will be at SIGCSE all week, from Tuesday night to Sunday morning, so be sure to stop by and say hello to her.
A computer science degree is neither necessary nor sufficient for success in teaching computing. The slides below miss the live demo of Media Computation. My TEDxGeorgiaTech talk (video on YouTube) has much of the same components, but is lacking the ukulele playing that I did today. There was no recording made of my talk.
It’s not too often that a policy announcement about education happens on the Georgia Tech campus. In the picture above, tech entrepreneur Chris Klaus is introducing Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (who is second from the right — the guy on the far right is our Provost Rafael Bras), in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building (same Klaus — he funded the building). Chris has been spearheading an effort to get more “coding” into Georgia schools.
The Governor said that he’s asking the State Board of Education for computer science to count as core science, mathematics, and foreign languages.
The gossip before the talk was that he was going to announce that CS would count for (i.e., replace) foreign languages (which is not a good idea). This announcement was a bit better than that, but it’s still not clear what it means. AP CS already counts as a science towards high school graduation. Does it mean that more CS courses will count? That AP CS will count as any of math, science, or foreign languages? And will the State Board of Education go along with this? Who knows?
The guy on the far left of that picture is Representative Mike Dudgeon. He’s taken on the task of changing the “highly-qualified” list in Georgia so that business teachers OR math teachers OR science teachers can teach CS in Georgia. Currently, CS is a “Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education” subject, meaning that only teachers with a business certificate can teach CS. Barbara Ericson has fought hard so that mathematics teachers can also teach AP CS — but this all leaves us in the weird position that AP CS counts as a science, but science teachers can’t teach it. Only math and business teachers can teach AP CS in Georgia. That would be great if Dudgeon is successful. It’s easier to teach CS to math and science teachers than business teachers.
I was a meeting recently with Chris Klaus where he said that he wants to make Georgia the first state in the USA to require CS for high school graduation. When I balked at that (citing the issues in my Blog@CACM post), he had an interesting counter-proposal. We give schools and districts who aren’t ready to teach CS a waiver, but to get a waiver, you have to have a plan in place to be able to teach CS within three years. Might work.
My proposal in the group that Chris has founded to have more “coding education in Georgia” isn’t getting much traction. I proposed we do what Calculus did. How did Calculus get taught in every high school? First, schools in the 1800’s started teaching calculus to undergrads. By the 1900’s, every STEM undergrad had to take Calculus, and the top high schools were preparing their kids for Calculus. By the late 1900’s, all high schools were offering calculus. My proposal is that that the Board of Regents make CS part of the general education requirement of all undergraduates in the University System of Georgia. Every student in every college in Georgia would be required to take a course in CS. Unlike elementary and high schools, USG institutions have CS teachers — they might have to hire more faculty to handle the load, but they know how to do it. It’s much less expensive to teach CS at the undergraduate level than at the high or elementary school level. But this creates the curriculum (you have to teach a different CS to everyone from what you teach to CS majors) that the high-end schools will immediately start to emulate, and that will get copied into other high schools. Biggest advantage is that every new teacher (business, math, or science) will take a CS class! That should accelerate the rate of getting teachers who know CS into schools, and give them a new tool for teaching STEM classes.
Anyway, it’s probably a good thing that there is all of this interest in computing education from Georgia political leaders.
Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Computing Education: International K12 CS with “Georgia Computes!”
The special issue of ACM Transactions on Computing Education on primary and secondary schools’ computing has just come out (see table of contents). There are articles on the UK’s Computing at School effort, Tim Bell’s effort in New Zealand, and efforts in Israel, Germany, Italy, Russia, and several others.
This is a particularly big deal for Barb and me, because in this issue, we publish the capstone journal paper on “Georgia Computes!” and describe what resulted from our six years worth of effort. We present both the positives (e.g., big increase in Hispanic participation in CS, teacher professional development touching 37% of all high schools in the state, great summer camp programs spread across the state) and the negatives (e.g., little impact on African American participation, little uptake by University faculty).
Georgia Computes! (GaComputes) was a six-year (2006–2012) project to improve computing education across the state of Georgia in the United States, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of GaComputes was to broaden participation in computing and especially to engage more members of underrepresented groups which includes women, African Americans, and Hispanics. GaComputes’ interventions were multi-faceted and broad: summer camps and after-school/weekend programs for 4th–12th grade students, professional development for secondary teachers, and professional development for post-secondary instructors faculty. All of the efforts were carefully evaluated by an external team (led by the third and fourth authors), which provides us with an unusually detailed view into a computing education intervention across a region (about 59K square miles, about 9.9 million residents). Our dataset includes evaluations from over 2,000 students who attended after-school or weekend workshops, over 500 secondary school teachers who attended professional development, 120 post-secondary teachers who attended professional development, and over 2,000 students who attended a summer day (non-residential) camp. GaComputes evaluations provide insight into details of interventions and into influences on student motivation and learning. In this article, we describe the results of these evaluations and describe how GaComputes broadened participation in computing in Georgia through both direct interventions and indirect support of other projects.
The latest reports from the University of Chicago’s research on the state of computing education in the United States are now out. The ACM hired the U. Chicago Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education to figure out where we are today. The first study, the Landscape Study, came out last year. Two new ones came out this week:
- The Teacher Capacity Survey asks the teachers about their needs and where they see CS Education today. The big problem with that study (which they recognize) is that they got a biased population. The teachers who responded are the most educated, the most supported. Half of the respondents reported teaching CS for 10 years or more. Other data (like the CSTA survey) paint a different picture. Still, the Teacher Capacity survey provides interesting voices to the discussion, 774 responses from (they estimate) about 10% of the target population.
- The Stories from the Field are targeted interviews to tell four regional stories: Chicago, U. Alabama, Purdue University, and Georgia. Yes, I was interviewed, and recordings of me answering some of the interview questions are part of the Georgia story. I’ve skimmed all four stories now and really like them. My favorite part of this report so-far are the cross-cutting themes.
Fascinating study — not surprising, but worthwhile noting. This work was done in Chemistry, so it bears replication in other STEM disciplines. Some on the SIGCSE-Members list were wondering, “Is this just for research-oriented universities? Or for teaching-oriented universities, too?” In our work interviewing faculty as part of our work in GaComputes and DCCE, we heard surprisingly similar concerns at both kinds of institutions. The faculty at schools with a teaching mission told us that their tenure was based on research publications, and they felt similar levels of stress.
Young women scientists leave academia in far greater numbers than men for three reasons. During their time as PhD candidates, large numbers of women conclude that (i) the characteristics of academic careers are unappealing, (ii) the impediments they will encounter are disproportionate, and (iii) the sacrifices they will have to make are great.