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Inclusion Speaker Series: Student Experiences in Early CS classes: Research and Recommendations

Dr. Christine Alvarado: Teaching Professor and Associate Dean for Students, UC-San Diego

Event Details

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
12-1:30 p.m.



Abstract: High levels of attrition in early CS courses are frequently reported, and students from groups underrepresented in computing--including women, Black, Latinx and Native American students--often drop out at higher rates.  While it is clear that students are struggling, what is not well understood is students' detailed experience in these courses.  Our work examines the barriers students face in early CS courses via a lightweight survey instrument that we developed and administered regularly in several lower-division programming courses over multiple quarters.  We found that students face a variety of (and many) barriers in these courses, and the barriers faced differed by gender and race.   Additionally, we found that the survey itself was a useful pedagogical tool in detecting and supporting struggling students throughout the course.  In this talk I will discuss our research results as well as how this survey instrument has led to pedagogical improvements in personalized support for students in early CS courses.

Bio: Christine Alvarado is a Teaching Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department and Associate Dean for Students in the Jacobs School of Engineering at University of California, San Diego.    Her current efforts are focused on designing curriculum and programs to make computing and computing education more accessible and appealing, with the specific goal of increasing the number of women and Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students who study computing.