Colloquium on Computer Science Pedagogy

The goal of the Colloquium on CS Pedagogy is to provide a platform for presentations on and discussions of teaching, learning, technological and policy issues related to computer science education. Presentations involving cognitive, behavioral and social aspects of learning are also encouraged. All are welcome to attend.

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Barriers to Computing: What Prevents CS for All

Miranda Parker, Georgia Institute of Technology
Thursday, November 29, 2018
10:00AM-11:00AM, GHC 6115


Computer science is not available to all high school students. Part of the reason is that few US high schools offer CS. We do not know when or why schools decide to teach CS. My work is focused on understanding the challenges in providing computing education to everyone. Specifically, I am investigating how to design cost-effective interventions to promote successful learning outcomes in CS for students of all socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds.Through a statewide study in Georgia, I uncovered surprising relationships between median income in the school district and high schools offering CS. While computing education researchers know why individual students might be interested in computer science classes, there has been very little research so far on larger, systemic factors impacting access to and interest in CS. In order to further investigate the relationship between SES and success in CS, we had students from different SES backgrounds take a validated measure of CS1 knowledge I developed, called SCS1. This measure showed us that socioeconomic status predicts CS achievement, but spatial reasoning is a more powerful intermediate variable than access to computing education. This talk presents work addressing the questions: What leads to success in CS? How would we know if students were successful? What are the barriers to computing?


Miranda Parker is a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech in Human-Centered Computing, advised by Mark Guzdial. Her research is in computer science education, where she is interested in topics of assessment, achievement, and access. Miranda’s dissertation research focuses on questions of access and barriers to computer science courses at the high school level within the state of Georgia. She has previously interned with and worked on the development of the K-12 CS Framework. Miranda is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Georgia Tech President’s Fellow.