Only about 40 percent of the state’s high schools offer AP computer science courses. The equity gap is based on income, with low-income school districts offering few or no computer science education opportunities. This disparity –– coupled with long waitlists for computer science courses at universities –– creates barriers for students who enter college without any prior programming experience.
Wang’s project with Buffardi, “Integrating Representation, Relevance, and Equity into a Personalized Education System,” aims to improve inclusiveness in the field of computer science by placing multimedia learning and the perspectives of women/Hispanics at the center of high school teaching practices.
In addition to creating the platform, they will develop a framework for equitable learning in K-12 computer science education and propose ways to improve self-efficacy and inclusion in computer science.
By providing relevant IT content, they hope to increase students’ sense of belonging. The site also allows students to tackle programming topics at their own pace. To achieve this, Wang and Buffardi will mentor “near-peer” students to create content that summarizes their culturally relevant views on computer science. This content will also be used to develop more culturally representative curricula. Wang said he is excited to learn from students’ experiences and incorporate their perspectives into his own classes.
While the platform will initially be offered to partner schools, the project team plans to make the technology accessible to the general public. In Goleta, Dos Pueblos High School will be one of the first to adopt the specialized platform. The technology “will allow high school teachers to supplement their own curriculum, track students’ progress on certain topics and provide feedback on how to address students appropriately,” Wang said.
Their research findings will also be integrated into CSU Chico teacher professional development courses, equipping future AP computer science teachers with inclusive pedagogy and strategies.
“We hope our platform will encourage more students from disadvantaged communities to apply to college to major in computer science,” Wang said, helping to make the admissions process for computer science universities more diverse and inclusive.