Computer Science (CS) is a field with severe underrepresentation of students of color, low-income, and female students. This is not due to a lack of interest or ability, but rather, these students have been denied quality CS educational opportunities and often are made to feel that they do not belong in the field.
In all of our UCLA Center X CS Projects, our mission is to attend to this underrepresentation by addressing the interaction of structural inequalities (access to courses, teachers), belief systems (stereotypes about what type of student can excel in CS), classroom pedagogy, and larger educational policies that impact which students do (and which students do not) learn computer science. Additionally, as CS opportunities begin to scale through our public school systems, we work to ensure that equity is consistently kept at the center of all efforts.
Our team has been at the forefront of broadening participation in computing activities for almost a decade. In 2000, under the auspices of the NSF-funded “Into the Loop Alliance,” we conducted research presented in Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing (Margolis, Estrella, Goode, Jellison-Holme, Nao, 2008, 2017). The findings reveal how CS educational disparities fall along race, gender, and class lines and how CS education is a window into the reproduction of inequality. In 2008, in response to these findings, the Exploring Computer Science program was created. The ECS program consists of 1) a year-long, research-based, high school, intro inquiry and equity based computer science curriculum (co-authors Joanna Goode and Gail Chapman) and 2) ECS teacher professional development.
Projects and Collaborations
ECS was written by team members Joanna Goode and Gail Chapman, and was first piloted in 2008 through a partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). It has since spread to 25 states in the US, the 7 largest school districts in the nation, and Puerto Rico. Currently, the course reaches over 50,000 students annually. As of 2018, the ECS national expansion and program development work is being led by our collaborators at the University of Oregon. Visit the Exploring Computer Science project website to learn more about the ECS program, please contact Joanna Goode and Gail Chapman through the ECS site: www.exploringcs.org.
REAL-CS: Researching Equity, Access, and Learning in CS Education
REAL-CS is a National Science Foundation collaboration between UCLA and University of Oregon partners. REAL-CS consists of three strands of work:
Strand #1 focuses on the national expansion and program support of ECS (led by University of Oregon). Strand #2 focuses on our policy work of building the capacity of teachers, District administrators, and policy makers for broadening participation in computing (led by UCLA). Strand #3 is research focused on centering the voices, perspectives, and experiences of youth underrepresented in CS who are taking ECS and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles courses. We seek to understand what factors most impact their engagement, sense of agency, and identity with CS. Through Research Practice Partnerships with local districts, we will be collecting and analyzing data to learn from students’ experiences on the West Coast, Deep South, and Northeast. This strand is supported by both the NSF and the Gates Foundation.
To learn more about the national ECS program, please contact Joanna Goode () or Gail Chapman (). To learn more about our policy efforts, please contact Julie Flapan at , To learn more about our research efforts, please contact Jean Ryoo at .
In California, our team member Dr. Julie Flapan, is the Executive Director of ACCESS (Alliance of California Computing Education for Students and Schools). ACCESS is a statewide network of computer science education leaders including: K-12 teachers, administrators and leaders; computer science professors from community colleges through universities; education school faculty and CS professional developers; industry professionals; and educational policy advocates. ACCESS is dedicated to advocating for high-quality K-12 computer science education in California and ensuring its accessibility to all students, specifically targeting underrepresented students including girls, students of color and low-income students. To learn more, please visit: http://access-ca.org.
CSforCA is a public education campaign of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students a Schools, advocating for equity and access to meaningful computer science teaching and learning opportunities in California with a focus on inclusion of underrepresented students in computing including girls, low-income students, English learners, and students of color. By 2025, our goal is to ensure that all California students will have access to high-quality computer science education that prepares them for college, careers and community engagement.
UCLA Computer Science Projects Contact
Nina Kasuya, Program Coordinator