Category Archive: Research

Computer Science Teachers’ Problems of Practice: Solve This!

In 2021 we received funding from a ACM SIGCSE Special Projects Grant, with our colleague Dr. Michelle Friend (University of Nebraska – Omaha) for a project we called: Solve this! Problems of practice teachers face in K-12 CS Education. Since then we have been working on gathering, analyzing, and disseminating the findings. Overall, our goal for this project is to provide a platform for researchers to understand authentic problems of practice that teachers face in order to bridge the gap between research and practice. 

What have we accomplished so far?

At the beginning of the project we designed a survey to be sent to teachers around the world. The survey included demographic questions about the teacher and their locale, but most importantly about the problems of practice they experience when planning, teaching, or attempting to plan/teach computer science in their school or classroom. Once the survey underwent internal and external face validity, we disseminated the survey. Our survey reached teachers in Ireland, Canada, and the United States. We opened it in July 2021 and closed it in October 2021, receiving over 700 responses.

After cleaning the data, we were left with 396 responses. We created over 40 codes as we  analyzed the data and several themes emerged. Although we are still in the process of data analysis, some of the initial findings include problems of practice such as a lack of teaching time or schedule availability to teacher CS, poor academic habits, and challenges related to student interactions or partner work. We have been able to share initial results at several conferences and our paper examining our initial set of data has been accepted to Koli Calling 2022

What is next? 

Our goal is to have our interactive K-12 CS education teaching problems of practice populated and ready for use by the end of this year. All of the problems of practice entered through this study will be added to our website and will be searchable by demographics of the teachers who submitted them (e.g., country, years teaching CS). 

For researchers, this site will provide you with the problems teachers are facing and can help inform your research agenda. 

Teachers will be able to upvote problems of practice that they experience and will be able to add their own problems. 

Watch our social media platforms for our Problems of Practice page announcement!

Computer Science Teachers’ Personalized Reflection on the CSTA K-12 Teacher Standards

This past summer, CSEdResearch.org had the opportunity to partner with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence), a research center at the University of California, San Diego, to develop an assessment of teachers’ understanding and use of the CSTA K-12 CS Teacher Standards. As part of this process, we wanted to understand how the Standards can help inform CS teachers’ professional reflection process and their professional development trajectory. With funding from E_CSPD_Week, a U.S. Department of Education EIR grant, CSEdResearch.org joined the partnership to break down the CSTA K-12 Teacher Standards to usable rubric language for personalized reflection and feedback. This summer we piloted a reflection-based assessment for Standards 2-5, with Standard 1 being piloted next summer. After piloting our designed process in two states, Indiana and South Carolina, we learned a lot and continue to improve the process. 

To provide a high level overview of the work that went into the process, our team, along with assistance from CSTA, dissected the CSTA K-12 Teacher Standards 2-5 to create 18 rubric items and scales across three main categories: 1) plan, 2) assessment, and 3) professional growth and development. We then created an entry form to collect the data from a group of teachers in Indiana and South Carolina who participated in the pilot of this work. We are currently undergoing the next phase, scoring and developing a process for external expert readers to provide feedback to the teachers who submit their information as part of this optional process. Our work has resulted in a set of recommendations on how to improve the process so teachers are able to more easily collect and enter their data, which we provided to CSTA and CREATE during a recent discussion. Once completed, this will be tested with a wider group of teachers in summer 2023 and go through a second revision process.

We are also in the process of starting work developing an assessment for Standard 1, CS content knowledge. Working with Dr. Adrienne Decker, we will be creating a brief assessment for AP CS A targeted to high school teachers. We will be piloting this assessment in summer 2023.

Stay tuned for updates on this project. 

Educate Maine: Decreasing Financial Barriers and Increasing Students’ Access to Coding

At CSEdResearch.org we find great value in raising up the voices of our partners who are doing great things in the computer science community. One of those partners is Educate Maine.

 

This summer Educate Maine’s signature project, Project>Login, hosted 5 Girls Who Code camps all over the state of Maine.

They were able to provide these camps for free, decreasing financial barriers and increasing access for all students.  The girls who participated were able to engage with industry professionals, learn from experienced teachers, and make memories to last a lifetime.

What was our role in this amazing experience? External evaluators. As part of this work, Educate Maine is continuing to reflect and improve their practices through evaluations. The evaluations focused on student and teacher experiences during the week long camps all over the state. Most of the girls who participated in Project>Login’s Girls Who Code camps do not have coding at their school or a Girls Who Code after school program, therefore this summer experience is truly increasing their knowledge of what it means to be a “coder” and, more widely, a “computer scientist”

WEX Industry Partner with Girls Who Code campers

Girls at their Girls Who Code camp

Partner work at one of the Girls Who Code camps

K-12 Computer Science Teachers’ Problems of Practice

Recently, K-12 teachers in Indiana spoke to us during #CSTAPDWeekIN (CSTA PD Week in Indiana) about problems of practice that they have experienced or witnessed during their time teaching CS. We highlight here a few of their thoughts.
—-

K-12 CS teachers from Indiana recently shared problems of practice with us that they have witnessed or experienced related to computer science education. Three of these addressed the lack of trained teachers and how that impacts schools and students, misconceptions about who belongs in CS, and the lack of funding for CS education despite state-wide mandates.

Lack of trained teachers

Danielle Carr, CS teacher at Lake Central High School and CS instructor for IndianaComputes!, said, “I wish they (researchers) knew that many of the teachers teaching CS don’t have a background in CS.” Echoing this, Jennifer Hanneken, school library media specialist at Lawrenceburg Community School Corporation, noted that, “Schools need to be required to have computer science taught by a qualified, certified teacher. They need to understand the enormity of the standards.” This is especially true if we are to achieve equitable learning outcomes so that all students receive quality computer science instruction.  Of the 35 teachers we spoke with, nearly one-third indicated that they were second career teachers who came from industry and were asked to teach CS specific courses. Nearly half of the teachers were asked or voluntold to teach CS in their schools with limited to no background in CS specific content. This phenomenon is not unique to Indiana and is a known issue in other places around the country and the world. It speaks to how important it is to consider this in our research, particularly how it relates to student outcomes.

Misconceptions about who belongs

Teachers were also aware of the critical aspect of student and teacher perceptions about “who” belongs in CS. Carr further said, “There is a stigma of who ‘should/can’ do computer science”, which inevitably impacts recruitment to courses. Carrie Koontz, 6th grade science teacher at Edgewood Junior High School, echoed this, “Students consider CS as a subject for certain people, not for everyone.” While national statistics (such as those provided by Code.org) display an increase of students studying CS who are from historically excluded populations, there is still a long way to go. Equitable CS education is and continues to be a critical goal that must be achieved both in Indiana and nationwide if we want to broaden participation. Overcoming the notion of who “belongs” is an important first step.

Funding for all aspects of CS education

One of the teachers, Kathryn Dunphy, a K-5 teacher at Avon Community School Corporation, said that “there is an assumption of what Computer Science is, so funding is not provided for what is needed, outside of maybe computers.” Several other teachers said that lack of funding for CS education programs, manipulatives for younger students, and related resources are often pushed to the bottom of budgets each school year. As the policies move forward in state after state and district after district, policymakers and legislatures must ensure that mandates are funded adequately to ensure the best learning outcomes for their students.

Jennifer Hanneken

Jennifer Hanneken

Danielle Carr

Danielle Carr

A Conversation with Dr. Satabdi Basu

This post features Dr. Satabdi Basu, a Senior Education Researcher at SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute.


Dr. Basu joined SRI International in 2016 after receiving her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Computer Science (CS) with a specialization in AI for Education. At SRI, she leads projects in K-12 CS and AI education that give her the opportunity to work with school districts and focus on assessment and curriculum design and teacher professional development. She currently is working on several projects, including developing middle school CS teachers’ understanding of CS standards and formative assessment practices at Milwaukee Public Schools and bringing the SPICE (Science Projects Integrating Computing and Engineering) project to Metro Nashville Public Schools and Charlottesville City Public Schools. She is also working on an international project with school systems in Hong Kong that are focused on promoting computational thinking in primary grades. 

Her research work also includes published articles summarized on our site:

Dr. Basu found the resources at CSEdResearch.org about 4 or 5 years ago when searching for survey instrumentation. She has used it ever since. She says, “I use the filters to find what I need, especially when writing literature reviews or designing instruments.” Internally at SRI, she endorses the resources on CSEdResearch.org and is always looking through the site to find new and updated information.

When asked why she uses CSEdResearch.org, she responded, “If it wasn’t there, I would be using Google Scholar to find papers, search for the instruments used, reach out to authors – that takes a lot of time. Using the site is easier and cuts down on the time of putting together instruments for projects or literature reviews for papers.”

In addition to the website, she also enjoys the tweets CSEdResearch.org provides that focus on brief informative guidance on instrument creation.

 


 
Dr. Satabdi Basu is a Senior CS Education Researcher at SRI International. She has published numerous articles on CS education research, particularly focused on computational thinking and K-12 students. She has presented at national and international conferences, and also been invited as a keynote speaker.

A New Model for Inclusive Computer Science Education

Our post today is a guest post by Carol L. Fletcher, Ph.D., Director, Expanding Computing Education Pathways (EPIC), The University of Texas Austin. This post originally appeared in Google’s The Keyword and is reprinted with permission.

In this post, Dr. Fletcher explains the CAPE framework that she and Dr. Jayce Warner (also at the University of Texas Austin) developed. Along with several of our collaborators, our project teams at CSEdResearch.org have used CAPE to help understand how a school’s Capacity for CS education impacts who takes CS and their experiences–all with an equity lens. It has been a critical model for us, and we believe it can be a useful model for other education researchers and evaluators. We are also recipients of a 2020 Google CS-ER Award, from which Fletcher and Warner’s work is also funded.


The lack of diversity in the computing education pipeline has been a remarkably persistent problem. Something that’s stalled progress in addressing disparities is that there’s largely been a focus on individuals, such as teachers and students, rather than on how equity plays out across multiple levels of the computer science (CS) education ecosystem. This is why our work at the University of Texas since 2014 focuses on understanding the root causes of inequities in the CS education pipeline and how every level of the system influences equity.

With the support of a CS-ER (computer science education research) grant from Google, my colleague Jayce Warner and I developed a framework for thinking about equity across the CS education ecosystem. We began this work after digging into data in Texas in 2014 and finding that only about a quarter of Texas high schools offered any kind of CS course and fewer than 3% of Texas students were taking a CS course each year. The students enrolled in CS courses were also not reflective of the student population in our diverse state. We launched what became the WeTeach_CS professional development program, with the ultimate objective of seeing equitable enrollment in CS courses in Texas. To achieve this goal, we first had to improve access to CS courses and increase the number of CS-certified teachers in the state.

At the time, we thought equity had to wait until we had solved the capacity, access and participation challenges. But as we began thinking more deeply about this model and asking our colleagues in the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance for feedback, we realized several things:

True Equity is about more than just diversity in the classroom, and just because something is available to everyone doesn’t mean that everyone can or will benefit. Also, education is very complex and the things we can easily measure (such as AP class participation) may not be the best indicators of change or success.

We developed a new framework that reflects how things connect at different levels of CS education. Most importantly, this model helps us better understand how equity plays out at each level. We’ve called it the CAPE framework and it consists of four interdependent components: capacity for CS education, access to CS education, participation in CS education and experience of CS education.

Each level affects the next. For example, if we want students to have equitable experiences in CS, we first need to make sure they’re participating equitably. Equitable participation relies on equitable access and equitable access relies on equitable capacity.

CAPE is represented as a triangle with four levels. Capacity for CS Education is the foundational level of the triangle, with access to CS education above that, participation in CS education above that, and experiences of CS education at the top. Example questions that can be asked at the Capacity level address teachers, funding and policies such as Do districts in all areas have the resources to offer CS and to train and certify teachers? Access questions deal with course offerings such as Are CS courses offered in low-income schools at similar rates to other schools? Questions at the participation level address student enrollment such as Which subgroups are underrepresented in CS courses and to what extent? Experience level questions can address student outcomes such as How does instruction and learning differ across student subgroups and do all students feel a sense of belonging in CS?

The CAPE Framework helps the entire CS education community think about the systems they work in and the types of questions they should ask to ensure equity and inclusion in computing. One example is Jackie Corricelli, a PreK-12 CS Curriculum Specialist in West Hartford Public Schools (CT), who’s used the CAPE framework to evaluate her district’s K-12 CS program. In another example, Bryan Cox, Computer Science Specialist at the Georgia Department of Education, is building a public dashboard to track access and participation in K-12 CS education in Georgia. In Texas, we’ve used CAPE to frame our state and regional CSEd Profiles and recently released a new interactive visualization to explore capacity, access and participation across the state’s 1,200 school districts and more than 2,000 high schools.

Google supported these efforts with a CS-ER grant awarded to UT Austin, which was instrumental in the development and evolution of the CAPE framework. In 2021, Google awarded seven new CS-ER grants. This year’s grant awardees are: Amy J. Ko, University of Washington; Derek Aguiar, University of Connecticut; Jean Ryoo, University of California, Los Angeles; Jennifer Parham-Mocello, Oregon State University; Joshua Childs and Tia Madkins, The University of Texas at Austin; Melanie Williamson and Audrey Brock, Bluegrass Community & Technical College; and Mounia Ziat, Bentley University.

For more information about each of the recipient’s projects, or to submit an application to be considered for future cohorts, you can visit Google Research’s Outreach page.

SIGCSE Technical Symposium 2021 – See you there!

This week’s post features Monica McGill (CEO, CSEdResearch.org) and the ongoing work at CSEdResearch.org that will be presented at the 2021 SIGCSE Technical Symposium.


This year’s SIGCSE Tech Symposium will be quite different than last year’s (it will happen!) and prior years (virtual, rather than in person). But that doesn’t mean we will be less active in presenting highlights from some of our work.

If you haven’t heard of the SIGCSE Technical Symposium (TS), let me introduce you. This symposium (or conference, if you prefer) was established over 50 years ago and is a conference for computer science educators who teach Pre-school on up. It’s a great place to meet people and hear about research and experiences of computer science educators.

This is our first official presentation at SIGCSE as an official non-profit organization–and we are happy to share some of our work.

  • Workshop – Sign up for Workshop #102 Efficient, Effective, and Ethical Education Research Data Management and Sustainability to hear me, Stacey Sexton (SageFox Consulting Group), Alan Peterfreund (SageFox Consulting Group), and Maria Praetzellis (University of California, Office of the President) discuss data management of your education research data.
  • Birds of a Feather – I will be joined by Sloan Davis (Google) for a discussion around Improving K-12 CS Education Research via Tools and Resources for the Community. We’ll cover some known tools, and we’ll have an active discussion with participants to hear your pain points in research and what tools and resources might be useful to you to make your life easier.
  • Paper Presentation – Come here about our work Piloting the Air Force JROTC Cyber Academy for High School Students with my co-authors Sarah Lee (University of Southern Mississippi), Litany Lineberry (Mississippi State University), John Sands (Moraine Valley Community College) and Leigh Ann DeLyser (CSforALL). This experience report discusses the United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) piloted a Cyber Academy to teach cybersecurity skills and career awareness to high school JROTC cadets.
  • Demonstration – Join Emily Schroeder (Knox College) and me in a demonstration of The REDCap Survey Platform: Using Standardized Instruments on a Single Platform for Collecting Research Study Data.
  • Panel – Join Thomas Price (North Carolina State University), Baker Franke (Code.org), Shuchi Grover (Looking Glass Ventures & Stanford University) and me for an engaging discussion on Using Data to Inform Computing Education Research and Practice. This panel brings together four panelists at various stages of work collecting and analyzing large datasets in different fields of computing education. The panelists will each discuss their current work, the unique aspects of their data, and how that data fits into the larger landscape of computing education.
  • Google CS-ER supported work – Join me as I discuss a study we are currently involved in with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) to examine the process of creating teacher practice briefs with teachers and researchers with a focus on equity. This qualitative study will see the production of three teacher practice briefs targeting different problems of practice for middle school teachers and will lay the foundation for creating more briefs in the future.

I’ll also be at the ACM-W booth on Monday afternoon, so if you’re interested in learning more about ACM-W and what we do, feel free to stop by and chat.

Times and dates for each of these talks are provided below. I hope to see you there!

 

Presentation Date and Time
Workshop #102 Efficient, Effective, and Ethical Education Research Data Management and Sustainability Saturday, March 13, 9am ET / GMT-5
ACM-W Booth Monday, March 15, 3pm-8pm ET / GMT-5
Birds of a Feather – Improving K-12 CS Education Research via Tools and Resources for the Community Tuesday, March 16, 4pm ET / GMT-5
Paper Presentation – Piloting the Air Force JROTC Cyber Academy for High School Students Wednesday, March 17, 1pm ET / GMT-5
Demonstration – The REDCap Survey Platform: Using Standardized Instruments on a Single Platform for Collecting Research Study Data Thursday, March 18, 8pm ET / GMT-5
Panel – Using Data to Inform Computing Education Research and Practice Friday, March 19, 11am ET / GMT-5
Google CS-ER Project: Engaging Teachers and Researchers to Create Teacher Practice Briefs Friday, March 19, 5:30pm ET / GMT-5

 
 
Image of Monica McGillMonica McGill is the CEO & Founder of CSEdResearch.org. She has worked in industry, for the government, and in academia over the last 30 years and now focuses on computer science education research, mostly at the K-12 level. She is also the Chair of ACM-W North America and a CSTA board member. Learn more about the history of CSEdResearch.org here.

Block-based Programming in Computer Science Classrooms

This week’s post features David Weintrop and his research on block-based programming. He shares three key points his research has discovered so far.


The first time I saw Scratch, I thought, “Wow! How clever! Is this the end of missing semi-colons errors!?” It was clear to me how the shape of the blocks, their easily understood behaviors, and the Sprites they controlled all worked together to make programming more accessible and inviting.

With my background in computer science, I could also see how foundational programming concepts were also present. I started with Scratch but then discovered a whole host of other environments, like Snap!, MIT AppInventor, Pencil Code, and Alice, that used a similar block-based approach. This got me thinking – do kids learning computer science with block-based tools? Should it be used in the Classroom? If so, what is the role of the Teacher? And finally, will block-based help kids learn text-based programming languages like Java and Python? My research seeks to try and answer these questions. Here is a bit of what I have found.

Kids think block-based programming is easier than text-based programming.

As part of my research on block-based programming in K-12 classrooms, I asked students what they thought about block-based programming. For the most part, students perceived block-based programming to be easier than text-based programming. They cited features such as the “browsability” of available commands, the blocks being easier to read than text-based programming, and the shape and visual layout of the blocks. It is also worth noting that some students viewed block-based programming as inauthentic and less powerful than text-based programming.

Kids do learn programming concepts with block-based tools.

My research found that students do in fact learn programming constructs when using a block-based tool. In fact, students who learned to program using a block-based tool scored higher on programming assessments compared to students who learned with a comparable text-based tool. I found a similar result in a different study looking at the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) exam, which asked students questions in block-based and text-based pseudocode.

Block-based programming may help kids learn text-based languages, but it is not automatic.

I also investigated the transition from block-based to text-based programming in high school computer science classrooms. I found that there was no difference in student performance in learning text-based programming based on prior experience with block-based or text-based programming. In other words, students performed the same regardless of how they had learned programming up to that point. One thing to note is that in my study, the teacher provided no explicit supports to help students make connections between their block-based experience and the text-based language. I mention this only to say that there is still research to be done into how best to support the blocks-to-text transition.

Overall, my research is finding that block-based programming should have a role in K-12 computer science education. While there is still work to be done, what we know so far suggests that block-based programming can serve as an effective introduction to the field of computer science.

 

David WeintropDavid Weintrop is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching & Learning, Policy & Leadership in the College of Education with a joint appointment in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of accessible, engaging, and equitable computational learning experiences. His work lies at the intersection of design, computational science education, and the learning sciences. David has a Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.

 

Longitudinal Trends in K-12 Computer Science Education Research

In this post, Bishakha Upadhyaya provides highlights of our SIGCSE 2020 paper on trends in K-12 CS Education research (co-authored with Monica McGill and Adrienne Decker). For more details, watch her talk or read the paper.  


 

Research in the field of Computer Science education is growing and so is the data and results obtained from it. Without a comprehensive look at them collectively, it can be difficult to understand the current trends in the field. In order to identify the trends in the K-12 computing education research in the US, we conducted a longitudinal analysis of data collected from five different publication venues over the course of 7 years.

For the purpose of this analysis, we looked at the manually curated dataset on csedresearch.org with over 500 articles that focused on K-12 computing education from years 2012 to 2018. As the majority of the articles in the dataset were from the US, we only looked at research papers whose participants were also from the US. We then ran SQL queries on the dataset in order to extract the subsets of data that were later analyzed in Tableau and presented visually using graphs and tables.

Some of the major trends that we were interested in examining were:

  • Locations of students/interventions studied
  • Type of articles (e.g., research, experience, position paper)
  • Program data (e.g., concepts taught, when activity was offered, type of activity, teaching methods),
  • Student data (e.g., disabilities, gender, race/ethnicity, SES)

Results revealed that there has been an increasing shift in classroom activities from informal curriculum to formal curriculum. This shift suggests that more research is being conducted within classes offered during school hours, increasing the reach to more students with the availability of more labs, lectures and other teaching methods.

Trends also revealed that the majority of the research papers had student participants based in California. While this may seem reasonable given California is the most populous state in the US, this trend doesn’t follow for Texas, the second most populous state. There were only 4 papers that represented participants from Texas. This suggests that policies and other standards may have an influence over the computing activities and research in the state.

Locations of participants in research studies
Locations of the student participants studied.

Our analysis also revealed various disparities in reporting the student demographics particularly the socio-economic status (SES) of the students. For the purpose of this analysis, we considered information about free/reduced lunch as low SES if not explicitly reported in the paper. Only 32 of the articles analyzed reported information about students’ SES. Despite previous evidence showing that the SES of the student affects their academic achievement, the underreporting suggests that it is still not being considered in many research studies.

Socio-economic status among participants
Socio-eonomic status as reported in studies. Low SES reflects students from low income households and/or qualifying for Free/Reduced lunch at school.

In a field with increasing efforts to increase inclusion of students from different backgrounds,
our research has shown considerable disparity in the research landscape of computing education. The lack of reporting makes it difficult for everyone from researchers and educators to policymakers to understand the results of these efforts, especially what needs improving. It is crucial to see how different interventions play out amongst different populations in order to implement and achieve the goals of CS for All.

 

Bishakha UpadhyayaBishakha Upadhyaya is a Senior at Knox College, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Neuroscience. She was the President of ACM-W chapter at Knox for 2019/2020 school year and served as the CS Student Ambassador. She was involved in this research as a part of her summer research project. As a part of her senior research project, she was involved in exploring the enacted curriculum in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. She will be joining Bank of America as a Global Technology Analyst after graduation in Spring 2021.

 

 

 

Computer science education still has diversity gaps

Google’s Vice President of Education and Research, Maggie Johnson, recently published this blog on the latest Gallup poll investigating diversity gaps in computer science education. We’ve reprinted this with permission. You may also access statistics from the Gallup poll here.

 


Jobs in the computing field are expected to grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, a rate that’s faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. But the latest research shows that not all K-12 students have the same access to, or perceptions of, computer science (CS) education—especially girls and Black students. COVID-19 has only exacerbated existing gaps, underscoring the need for more creative solutions to ensure all students receive the education they deserve today to succeed tomorrow, according to additional research.

To better understand these gaps and where we can focus on finding solutions, we’re continuing our funding support of Gallup’s comprehensive, multi-year research on the K-12 computer science education landscape. Today, we’re releasing Gallup’s latest findings, “Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in US K-12 Schools.” This report represents Gallup’s analysis of over 7,000 interviews with U.S. educators, parents, administrators and students. It is accompanied by four supplemental reports highlighting equity gaps among different segments of the population, including Black, female, Hispanic and rural students.

The research uncovered four key themes:

1. There are still gaps in access to computer science education between Black, Hispanic and white students.

Consistent with the 2016 study, in 2020, Gallup found only 46 percent of Black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students indicate that they have classes dedicated to computer science at their high school, compared to 52 percent of white students.

An infographic showing the percentages of students by race who say their schools offer a computer science class

 

2. There’s still a significant gender gap, too.

Seventy-three percent of boys say they are confident they can learn computer science, compared with 60 percent of girls, a gender gap similar to the one observed in 2016.

A graphic that shows how many students say they are confident about learning computer science

 

3. Computer science is a top priority for superintendents, but that same prioritization hasn’t made it to the classroom yet.

In 2020’s report, nearly six in 10 superintendents (58 percent) agree that computer science is currently a top priority in their districts. However, there appears to be a disconnect between administrators and teachers and principals, because just 18 percent of public school teachers and 28 percent of principals say computer science education is treated as a top priority at their schools.

A graphic that shows how many superintendents say computer science is a priority.

 

4. Students are generally unconvinced that computer science is important for them to learn.

Female students are particularly skeptical about the importance of learning computer science education, with just 31 percent of them saying CS is important for them to learn, compared with 49 percent of male students.

A graphic that shows more boys than girls think computer science is important to learn

Interventions from parents, educators, community leaders, policymakers, nonprofits and the technology industry are needed to encourage girls, Black students and Hispanic students to take computer science courses and ensure that when that interest exists, it’s matched with high quality learning opportunities. These students also need to be shown how CS knowledge can help them meet their goals in a variety of fields including the humanities, medicine and the arts.

With over $80 million in funding from Google.org, and a variety of programs as part of Code with Google, we are committed to closing equity gaps in CS education. For example, Code Next is a free computer science education program that meets Black and Latino high school students in their own communities, and Grasshopper is an app-based program for coding beginners to learn Javascript skills directly from their mobile phones and browsers. As part of our Google.org funding, we also gave a $3 million grant to The Kapor Center to establish the Equitable Computer Science Curriculum initiative. This effort brings together leaders in education equity, inclusive teaching practices and CS education, along with teachers and students to improve CS curricula and resources to increase racial and gender equity in CS classrooms.

No organization can increase access or improve perceptions of computer science education alone. We’re enthusiastic about all the work from nonprofits who have developed and share culturally-relevant learning resources, educators who support all of their students with skills they need to succeed, technology companies who have dedicated resources and governments who have created new policies to address CS learning gaps over the past five years. But we at Google believe there’s more work to be done in this complex field, and we hope publishing these reports helps the entire education community continue to advocate for and support underserved students. All of this research is fully accessible and for use in presentations.

(A virtual panel discussion was held on September 30, 12 p.m. Pacific/ 3 p.m. Eastern discussing the report’s key takeaways with Stephanie Marken, Gallup’s Executive Director of Education Research, and Dr. Alexis Martin, the Director of Research Partnerships at Kapor Center.)

 

Maggie JohnsonMaggie Johnson is Director of Education and University Relations for Google. She manages all technical education, content development, and information management programs for Google engineers and operations staff, as well as Google’s K12 educational programs in STEM and computer science (CS).