Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Amy Kamarainen

    Amy Kamarainen

    Researcher
    May 15, 2017 | 08:49 a.m.

    This is such an important problem space. Thank you for your work. I appreciate the multi-pronged approach you seem to be using. Do you have any initial insights you can offer related to activities or program structures that support engagement and persistence?

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 09:58 a.m.

    Good morning, Amy.  At Mississippi State University, we are offering summer outreach programs from elementary age to high school. Fortunately, with the growth of MSAWC, we have alliance members in other parts of Mississippi offering similar  programs this summer. We plan to continue to grow those offerings collectively.  This summer, we are piloting a summer bridge program for entering freshmen women in computing majors, and the living learning community in the fall that will enable women in computing majors to reside together in a residence hall. We look for these college entry programs to establish a cohort and community for these women as they transition into college. MSU also hosts the Mississippi Aspirations in Computing award each year, working with the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which engages 9-12th grade girls.  We reach out to these girls to keep them engaged through community outreach activities, scholarship opportunities, etc.  

    Thanks for watching the video and commenting! 

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 09:53 a.m.

    We are excited about the work that the Mississippi Alliance for Women in Computing is doing and will continue to do as we expend our partnerships and extend our reach.  We are beginning discussions with higher ed and industry in neighboring states to lay the groundwork for a Southern Alliance for Women in Computing.  You are encouraged to support MSAWC by becoming an Alliance member. Let us know how you want to help by visiting msawc.org and completing the "Join the Alliance" form!

     
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  • Icon for: Michael Haney

    Michael Haney

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 10:45 a.m.

    The description of the project and the video are complementary with the project focus being recruitment, retention and job transition in computer science for women in the state.  The description is the foundation for a rigorous study whereas the video is an effort to reach students directly and help them in their career paths.  It would seem that this dichotomy would have implications for who participates in the project and what supports they receive.  Can you describe a bit more about how you will help young women in their career paths while studying the factors that influence their decisions to enter those paths in the first place?  Are the participants in the project only those who have entered those paths or do you also work with those who have not yet committed to specific career paths?

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 12:38 p.m.

    Hi Michael,

    We are tracking participants that we engage to follow their movement along the pathway. Our earliest engagement point is 3rd grade at the moment. This fall, we will survey all women at MSU entering a computing major to identify what influenced them to choose the major, including what curricular and/or co-curricular activities they may have participated in.  We do engage young women through the Aspirations in Computing program who often have not committed to a specific career path.  We use that as an entry point and provide them additional opportunities to enter the pathway to computing. However, not all of them will choose that path.  

    Ways that we help the young women is through continued involvement.  Regardless of the entry point, we offer opportunities for young women to provide outreach and service (not just to women but to under-served students in Mississippi).  The mentoring and leadership opportunities provide an environment that enables young women to build and strengthen their self-confidence and self-efficacy in computing..in addition to creating a community of support across the state.  Informing the high school and college age women on scholarship and internship opportunities is another way we provide support. We provide professional development including resume development, time management, interviewing skills.... these are very important to the large number of first generation college students that we have in Mississippi.

     

    I would love to hear your ideas/suggestions on the research component (sblee@cse.msstate.edu)

     
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  • Icon for: Thomas Kalil

    Thomas Kalil

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 10:40 p.m.

    Very good description of the challenge.  Can you say a bit more about the intervention?

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 09:48 a.m.

    Thomas, 

    From a curricular standpoint, MSU is working with the Mississippi Department of Education to roll out a CS course (Exploring Computer Science) to K-12 public schools.  The CS and Math/Science Ed departments have been piloting a teacher professional development program to integrate computing into other course subject areas.  In-service teachers have come on campus the past two summers for this training, and a larger group will attend this summer. We are also integrating computational thinking and programming into coursework for pre-service teachers. 

    For K-12 students, MSU is offering summer day camps for elementary students and residential camps for middle and high school students teaching programming and cybersecurity concepts.  We also offer Saturday workshops (at MSU or at other locations in Mississippi) that introduce programming to girls using Scratch or Snap! with Finch robots.  Through the Alliance we are building, we have other organizations (higher ed and non-profit) offering day camps in other parts of the state for elementary and middle school girls. We are focused on continuing to expand those offerings through collaborative partnerships. 

    For young women entering a computing major at MSU, we are offering a summer bridge program. In June, they will reside on campus and receive instruction in computer programming with Python and math to prepare them for the fall semester.  There is also a professional development component that includes resume writing, interviewing skills, time management, dress for success, etc.  The ability to build this cohort with other women and to gain some of the soft skills mentioned are particularly important for the high number of first-generation college students that we have.

    In the fall, we are launching a living-learning community for women in computing majors.  The women will reside in the dorm together and have a mentor/tutor co-located to help them with the transition to college life.  The tutoring will focus on the computer programming coursework.  However, tutoring in additional subjects is available through our Bagley College of Engineering.

    Let me know if I may provide additional information! Thanks for visiting our video!

     
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    Teon Edwards
  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2017 | 01:54 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,

    How is the state of Mississippi doing in making CS education available to all students in the state?  Mississippi is one of the states that spends the least on funding per student.   Does that translate to less availability of CS in K-12 education?

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 05:18 p.m.

    Hi Richard, The 2016-2017 academic year was the first of a multi-year rollout of Exploring Computer Science to the public schools in Mississippi.  We have a MSAWC partner who is helping the Mississippi Department of Education with the teacher professional development in support of that effort.  In addition, we are offering professional development at Mississippi State for in-service teachers from a variety of content areas that enables those teachers to integrate computing and cybersecurity into their classrooms...We are not giving them something else to teach, but enabling them to integrate computing in support of what they teach.  We are developing a course for pre-service teachers that will introduce the same integrative approach.

     
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  • Icon for: Selma Sabanovic

    Selma Sabanovic

    Researcher
    May 17, 2017 | 11:52 p.m.

    Hello. You have started a very broad-ranging and inspiring initiative. We also work on a project related to motivating women to engage with STEM (our video is here: http://videohall.com/p/1007). One of our questions is how to engage people who are not interested in STEM in its own right in learning about the subject matter, and realizing the potential applications to a variety of domains (e.g. health, education). With this in mind, I was wondering what about the activities that you are doing do you see as particularly appealing to women? Do you see the cohort effect as being particularly important for attracting and retaining women? Are there particular ways of framing computing that might be more appealing to female students? Thank you again for you video and initiative.

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 05:45 p.m.

    Hello Selma! I do believe very strongly that with women and other under-represented groups it is very important to show the relevancy of computing when you are trying to engage them...how they may use computing to help their communities, or help other people in the world, to help the environment, etc.  It is easier to get them to the table if computing is integrated with another 'domain' that they are passionate about or interested in (like art or healthcare).

    Many of our Aspirations in Computing winners this year expressed an interest in healthcare IT..so that is an area that I am exploring more to incorporate into co-curricular activities we provide.  We have explored the use of art to introduce computing, and have used the Hummingbird robotics kits (http://www.hummingbirdkit.com/) in summer camp programs (students have to design the outer shell of whatever robot they decide to create).  I am working closely now with one of our alliance partners, the Mississippi Light Collaborative (https://www.mslightcollaborative.com/), to move forward with some new ideas for engaging women and other under-resourced students with design activities with a tie-in to art.

    In all of our co-curricular activities in the summer, we use either/or both a Sphero robot (http://www.sphero.com/sprk-plus) and the Finch robot (http://www.finchrobot.com/) to introduce coding.  We send a robot home with each student so that she can continue learning and share her knowledge with peers.  This has proven to be a very good way to introduce programming.  Our results have shown that students are less intimidated by the thought of designing a program when it's function is to make the little robot 'do something'. We start with block languages and move up to higher level languages depending on the age group.

    Regarding your cohort question, I do see first hand in our undergraduate program that young women find it hard to make connections with other women particularly in the first couple of years of the curriculum when classes are bigger and there are multiple sections...the 15% women we have in our undergraduate program are spread across multiple sections of the lower level CS courses. This is not as much an issue in upper level courses, but by then we may have lost them to another major! To give you an example, I had a freshman woman a few years ago text me from her programming class (that had about 60 students in it) saying "I want to be in a class that has people I can talk about makeup with".  Her point being...where are the women! 

     
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  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2017 | 01:37 a.m.

    Hi. I very much enjoyed your video and learning more about your project.  

    Nice to see that the Alliance is supporting the implementation of ECS.  Any idea how many high school students are likely to take the AP CSP exam this year?  

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 05:49 p.m.

    Anna, I reached out to the MSAWC Alliance partner who is working with the MS Department of Education (MDE) on the rollout of ECS (this was the first year and approximately 30 schools participated).  She says she knows first hand of only two teachers that had students take the AP exam.  She said finding an exact number would take a while as she will have to get that information from MDE. (I can certainly provide that to you later. email me at sblee@cse.msstate.edu)

    For one of the two teachers, this was the gender makeup of the students taking the AP exam versus the number of students in the class:

    Class: Girls: 1  Boys: 13

    Exam: Girls: 0  Boys: 7

    Clearly we have  much work to do.

     
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  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2017 | 02:27 p.m.

    Hi Sarah, I think that Jan Cuny NSF/CISE PO would be very interested in this type of information. Having the project team research more about specifics regarding ECS and AP CSP II implementation and student learning and persistence in CS would be of interest to NSF and the field.  You may want to pursue a research project through the CS for ALL or ECR programs if their are CS related research questions you would like to pursue. Given your focus on girls/women CS taking a deeper look as to why only 1 girl took the exam will be worthwhile and something that Jan Cuny (NSF/CISE PO) wants researched at a granular level. Good luck with your project - very interesting work!

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 02:30 p.m.

    Anna, Thanks for your kind words! I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Cuny when I was at NSF earlier this year.  I will definitely circle back and give her an update on our progress and goals.  I appreciate your feedback!  

     
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  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2017 | 02:57 p.m.

    I'm sure Jan would love to discuss your project with you and would be interested in funding additional research that takes a closer look at classroom practice and students gains and challenges with CS. Best of luck!  

     
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  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Presenter
    May 22, 2017 | 09:39 a.m.

    I will definitely follow up with her! Thanks!

     
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