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NSF Forms - Penn State Personal Web Server - Pennsylvania State ...

NSF Forms - Penn State Personal Web Server - Pennsylvania State ...

NSF Forms - Penn State Personal Web Server - Pennsylvania State

BPC-DP: A Developmental Community for Recruiting and Retaining Women in CISE Education As girls enter their teenage years, they often lose interest in the concepts and activities of computer and information science and engineering (CISE; [3, 90]). By the time teenage girls consider options for college, their interest in CISE majors is considerably lower than that of their male counterparts' [3, 32, 179]. Although the number of degrees granted to women in science fields like biology and chemistry has grown over the past 20 years, the number of women graduating with degrees in computer science (CS) has shown a persistent negative trend [32, 74, 183]. According to data from the Higher Education Research Institute, women’s interest in computer science fell 80% between 1998 and 2004, and 93% since its peak value in 2000 [179]. Researchers and educators have begun to explore interventions that might counteract women’s lack of interest in or success in CISE fields. For instance, CS educators have shown that pair programming techniques (involving cooperative problem-solving) can be very attractive to and successful with women as well as men [128]. University CISE programs often sponsor female student groups that provide peer support and mentoring for classmates [24]. Many universities are experimenting with outreach programs aimed at conveying basic computing skills and applications to middle or high school girls [93, 114, 145]. Our intervention builds on these efforts: we propose to investigate the consequences of a developmental community: A community including high school girls, undergraduate women in CISE majors, and female faculty and alumni professionals engaged in collaborative activities that scaffold the participation, understanding, and skills of young women as they encounter and engage the concepts and practices of computing. The community will provide younger members with mentors and social models at multiple stages of CISE careers. Some community interactions will be face-to-face, but for the most part the group will be maintained and enhanced through an online community system. Through a participatory design process, female undergraduates will develop and deliver workshops in which high school girls work together to build software applications specifically designed to appeal to them. The alumni will develop similar workshops for the undergraduate community members. In the course of planning and fielding these outreach activities, community members will develop and use an online community system for their collaborative work. The project's intellectual merit inheres in its focus on the socio-cultural factors that deter young women from pursuing education and careers in computing. Our primary research question concerns the impacts of a multi-level developmental community on female students’ attitudes and skills in computing. A secondary question concerns techniques for addressing the cultural stereotypes and negative attitudes toward computing often found among teenage girls—thus a critical research challenge is to envision and present software construction activities that can be attractive to girls who do not see computing as a career interest. The project's broader impacts include direct benefits for members of the developmental community—high school girls, university students, and alumni. As designers of the online community system, members will acquire skills in software development; as designers of the workshops, the undergraduates and alumni will broaden their knowledge of computing concepts and associated pedagogy. The knowledge gained by the high school girls will be more limited; in this case our outcome measures will focus on participants’ attitude and interest. More generally, our model and activities for building a developmental community can be generalized for adaptation by other universities interested in recruiting and retaining women in CISE education.

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