2021 CoNECD

Understanding the Landscape of Diversity Efforts in K-12 Computing Using csedresearch.org

Presented at CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 3 Technical Session 3

There has been a large growth in the availability of computing in the K-12 sector for the last several years. Since 2014, the number of schools offering computer science to its students has increased from 20 to 44 out of 50 [https://code.org/files/2018_state_of_cs.pdf]. Both prior to and during this growth, we witnessed a large number of programs targeted to introduce computing to K-12 students, some with the goals of broadening participation by underrepresented minorities. In this presentation, we would like to better understand the scope of such efforts by using the curated data set of research articles from the years 2012-2018 inclusive available from http://csedresearch.org

csedresearch.org is a resource center that houses over 500 curated article summaries from ten high quality peer reviewed conferences and journals. The curation process for the articles in this resource center allows for the capture of information about the intervention, its participants, and the research conducted on the intervention. Using this database of information, we can develop a picture of these interventions over the seven years and look for general trends or changes over time. For this presentation, we will focus on the information from the articles that deal with participant gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and disability status.

In terms of gender, we can look at several factors, the first being the genders of the actual participants reported in the studies. We can determine trends in gender participation in interventions and how often gender differences are being studied in the research.

In terms of race and ethnicity, we can determine the reported race and ethnicity information reported about the participants, and similarly we can determine if there are any trends for work targeted broadening participation in this area. For both of the above demographic characteristics, we will further blend the information with reported socioeconomic status of participants to develop a picture of what we may know about targeted interventions using these cross-sectional demographics.

In terms of disability information, it is known that this information is terribly under-reported in the data set. Less than 4% of all the articles in the database discuss the disability status of the participants of the intervention or any accommodations made to the intervention for various student disabilities. Since it is known that a number of students 14% of all students according to the National Center of Educational Statistics [https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp], receive services for a learning disability, it is something that will occur in computing classrooms and needs to be adequately addressed. And the learning disabilities do not cover the other types of disabilities that students may enter a classroom with.

Another aspect of diversity in computing activities involves the instructor or leader of the intervention. Most articles in the resource center do not report demographic information about the instructors/leaders of the interventions. We will present what is known about the instructor demographics.

Overall, we are able to present a picture of what the research literature is telling us about interventions at the K-12 level in terms of student diversity for the past seven years. In this final part of the presentation, we will also bring in information about the activities themselves including when and where they are offered and what types of tools, languages, and environments the interventions employ.

It is our hope that the presentation and the data analysis presented sparks conversation within the session and afterward about ways in which we can both approach and report upon broadening participation initiatives. However, the reporting aspects is also key for any intervention, regardless of its goals for broadening participation. Only after we understand the makeup of the environment in which the activity or intervention takes place does the information about the intervention have context. With context, future researchers and practitioners can decide the applicability of the intervention to their circumstances or to be able to report on the efficacy of an intervention applied to different circumstances.

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For those interested in:

  • computer science
  • disability
  • gender
  • race/ethnicity
  • Socio-Economic Status
  • Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology
  • Pre-College