Tag Archives: Equity

What does equity-focused teaching mean in computer science education?

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/equity-focused-teaching-in-computer-science-education/

Today, I discuss the second research seminar in our series of six free online research seminars focused on diversity and inclusion in computing education, where we host researchers from the UK and USA together with the Royal Academy of Engineering. By diversity, we mean any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. This might be, for example, age, gender, socio-economic status, disability, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexuality. The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of difference. 

In this seminar, we were delighted to hear from Prof Tia Madkins (University of Texas at Austin), Dr Nicol R. Howard (University of Redlands), and Shomari Jones (Bellevue School District) (find their bios here), who talked to us about culturally responsive pedagogy and equity-focused teaching in K-12 Computer Science.

Equity-focused computer science teaching

Tia began the seminar with an audience-engaging task: she asked all participants to share their own definition of equity in the seminar chat. Amongst their many suggestions were “giving everybody the same opportunity”, “equal opportunity to access high-quality education”, and “everyone has access to the same resources”. I found Shomari’s own definition of equity very powerful: 

“Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement of all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as the distribution of resources. Tackling equity requires an understanding of the root cause of outcome disparity within our society.”

Shomari Jones

This definition is drawn directly from the young people Shomari works with, and it goes beyond access and opportunity to the notion of increasing justice and fairness and addressing the causes of outcome disparity. Justice was a theme throughout the seminar, with all speakers referring to the way that their work looks at equity in computer science education through a justice-oriented lens.

Removing deficit thinking

Using a justice-oriented approach means that learners should be encouraged to use their computer science knowledge to make a difference in areas that are important to them. It means that just having access to a computer science education is not sufficient for equity.

Tia Madkins presents a slide: "A justice-oriented approach to computer science teaching empowers students to use CS knowledge for transformation, moves beyond access and achievement frames, and is an asset- or strengths-based approach centering students and families"

Tia spoke about the need to reject “deficit thinking” (i.e. focusing on what learners lack) and instead focus on learners’ strengths or assets and how they bring these to the school classroom. For researchers and teachers to do this, we need to be aware of our own mindset and perspective, to think about what we value about ethnic and racial identities, and to be willing to reflect and take feedback.

Activities to support computer science teaching

Nicol talked about some of the ways of designing computing lessons to be equity-focused. She highlighted the benefits of pair programming and other peer pedagogies, where students teach and learn from each other through feedback and sharing ideas/completed work. She suggested using a variety of different programs and environments, to ensure a range of different pathways to understanding. Teachers and schools can aim to base teaching around tools that are open and accessible and, where possible, available in many languages. If the software environment and tasks are accessible, they open the doors of opportunity to enable students to move on to more advanced materials. To demonstrate to learners that computer science is applicable across domains, the topic can also be introduced in the context of mathematics and other subjects.

Nicol Howard presents a slide: "Considerations for equity-focused computer science teaching include your beliefs (and your students' beliefs) and how they impact CS classrooms; tiered activities and pair programming; self-expressions versus CS preparation; equity-focused lens"

Learners can benefit from learning computer science regardless of whether they want to become a computer scientist. Computing offers them skills that they can use for self-expression or to be creative in other areas of their life. They can use their knowledge for a specific purpose and to become more autonomous, particularly if their teacher does not have any deficit thinking. In addition, culturally relevant teaching in the classroom demonstrates a teacher’s deliberate and explicit acknowledgment that they value all students in their classroom and expect students to excel.

Engaging family and community

Shomari talked about the importance of working with parents and families of ethnically diverse students in order to hear their voices and learn from their experiences.

Shomari Jones presents a slide: “Parents without backgrounds and insights into the changing landscape of technology struggle to negotiate what roles they can play, such as how to work together in computing activities or how to find learning opportunities for their children.”

He described how the absence of a background in technology of parents and carers can drastically impact the experiences of young people.

“Parents without backgrounds and insights into the changing landscape of technology struggle to negotiate what roles they can play, such as how to work together in computing activities or how to find learning opportunities for their children.”

Betsy DiSalvo, Cecili Reid, and Parisa Khanipour Roshan. 2014

Shomari drew on an example from the Pacific Northwest in the US, a region with many successful technology companies. In this location, young people from wealthy white and Asian communities can engage fully in informal learning of computer science and can have aspirations to enter technology-related fields, whereas amongst the Black and Latino communities, there are significant barriers to any form of engagement with technology. This already existent inequity has been enhanced by the coronavirus pandemic: once so much of education moved online, it became widely apparent that many families had never owned, or even used, a computer. Shomari highlighted the importance of working with pre-service teachers to support them in understanding the necessity of family and community engagement.

Building classroom communities

Building a classroom community starts by fostering and maintaining relationships with students, families, and their communities. Our speakers emphasised how important it is to understand the lives of learners and their situations. Through this understanding, learning experiences can be designed that connect with the learners’ lived experiences and cultural practices. In addition, by tapping into what matters most to learners, teachers can inspire them to be change agents in their communities. Tia gave the example of learning to code or learning to build an app, which provides learners with practical tools they can use for projects they care about, and with skills to create artefacts that challenge and document injustices they see happening in their communities.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about this topic, a great place to start is the recent paper Tia and Nicol have co-authored that lays out more detail on the work described in the seminar: Engaging Equity Pedagogies in Computer Science Learning Environments, by Tia C. Madkins, Nicol R. Howard and Natalie Freed, 2020.

You can access the presentation slides via our seminars page.

Join our next free seminar

In our next seminar on Tuesday 2 March at 17:00–18:30 BST / 12:00–13:30 EDT / 9:00–10:30 PDT / 18:00–19:30 CEST, we’ll welcome Jakita O. Thomas (Auburn University), who is going to talk to us about Designing STEM Learning Environments to Support Computational Algorithmic Thinking and Black Girls: A Possibility Model for Changing Hegemonic Narratives and Disrupting STEM Neoliberal Projects. To join this free online seminar, simply sign up with your name and email address.

Once you’ve signed up, we’ll email you the seminar meeting link and instructions for joining. If you attended Peter’s and Billy’s seminar, the link remains the same.

The post What does equity-focused teaching mean in computer science education? appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Computing education and underrepresentation: the data from England

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/computing-education-underrepresentation-data-england-schools/

In this blog post, I’ll discuss the first research seminar in our six-part series about diversity and inclusion. Let’s start by defining our terms. Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. This might be, for example, age, gender, socio-economic status, disability, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexuality. The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of difference.

It’s vital that we are inclusive in computing education, because we need to ensure that everyone can access and learn the empowering and enabling technical skills they need to support all aspects of their lives.

One male and two female teenagers at a computer

Between January and June of this year, we’re partnering with the Royal Academy of Engineering to host speakers from the UK and USA for a series of six research seminars focused on diversity and inclusion in computing education.

We kicked off the series with a seminar from Dr Peter Kemp and Dr Billy Wong focused on computing education in England’s schools post-14. Peter is a Lecturer in Computing Education at King’s College London, where he leads on initial teacher education in computing. His research areas are digital creativity and digital equity. Billy is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. His areas of research are educational identities and inequalities, especially in the context of higher education and STEM education.

Computing in England’s schools

Peter began the seminar with a comprehensive look at the history of curriculum change in Computing in England. This was very useful given our very international audience for these seminars, and I will summarise it below. (If you’d like more detail, you can look over the slides from the seminar. Note that these changes refer to England only, as education in the UK is devolved, and England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each has a different education system.)

In 2014, England switched from mandatory ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to mandatory Computing (encompassing information technology, computer science, and digital literacy). This shift was complemented by a change in the qualifications for students aged 14–16 and 16–18, where the primary qualifications are GCSEs and A levels respectively:

  • At GCSE, there has been a transition from GCSE ICT to GCSE Computer Science over the last five years, with GCSE ICT being discontinued in 2017
  • At A level before 2014, ICT and Computing were on offer as two separate A levels; now there is only one, A level Computer Science

One of the issues is that in the English education system, there is a narrowing of the curriculum at age 14: students have to choose between Computer Science and other subjects such as Geography, History, Religious Studies, Drama, Music, etc. This means that those students that choose not to take a GCSE Computer Science (CS) may find that their digital education is thereby curtailed from then onwards. Peter’s and Billy’s view is that having a more specialist subject offer for age 14+ (Computer Science as opposed to ICT) means that fewer students take it, and they showed evidence of this from qualifications data. The number of students taking CS at GCSE has risen considerably since its introduction, but it’s not yet at the level of GCSE ICT uptake.

GCSE computer science and equity

Only 64% of schools in England offer GCSE Computer Science, meaning that just 81% of students have the opportunity to take the subject (some schools also add selection criteria). A higher percentage (90%) of selective grammar schools offer GCSE CS than do comprehensive schools (80%) or independent schools (39%). Peter suggested that this was making Computer Science a “little more elitist” as a subject.

Peter analysed data from England’s National Pupil Database (NPD) to thoroughly investigate the uptake of Computer Science post-14 with respect to the diversity of entrants.

He found that the gender gap for GCSE CS uptake is greater than it was for GCSE ICT. Now girls make up 22% of the cohort for GCSE CS (2020 data), whereas for the ICT qualification (2017 data), 43% of students were female.

Peter’s analysis showed that there is also a lower representation of black students and of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds in the cohort for GCSE CS. In contrast, students with Chinese ancestry are proportionally more highly represented in the cohort. 

Another part of Peter’s analysis related gender data to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which is used as an indicator of the level of poverty in England’s local authority districts. In the graphs below, a higher IDACI decile means more deprivation in an area. Relating gender data of GCSE CS uptake against the IDACI shows that:

  • Girls from more deprived areas are more likely to take up GCSE CS than girls from less deprived areas are
  • The opposite is true for boys
Two bar charts relating gender data of GCSE uptake against the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index. The graph plotting GCSE ICT data shows that students from areas with higher deprivation are slightly more likely to choose the GCSE, irrespective of gender. The graph plotting GCSE Computer Science data shows that girls from more deprived areas are more likely to take up GCSE CS than girls from less deprived areas, and the opposite is true for boys.

Peter covered much more data in the seminar, so do watch the video recording (below) if you want to learn more.

Peter’s analysis shows a lack of equity (i.e. equality of outcome in the form of proportional representation) in uptake of GCSE CS after age 14. It is also important to recognise, however, that England does mandate — not simply provide or offer — Computing for all pupils at both primary and secondary levels; making a subject mandatory is the only way to ensure that we do give access to all pupils.

What can we do about the lack of equity?

Billy presented some of the potential reasons for why some groups of young people are not fully represented in GCSE Computer Science:

  • There are many stereotypes surrounding the image of ‘the computer scientist’, and young people may not be able to identify with the perception they hold of ‘the computer scientist’
  • There is inequality in access to resources, as indicated by the research on science and STEM capital being carried out within the ASPIRES project

More research is needed to understand the subject choices young people make and their reasons for choosing as they do.

We also need to look at how the way we teach Computing to students aged 11 to 14 (and younger) affects whether they choose CS as a post-14 subject. Our next seminar revolves around equity-focused teaching practices, such as culturally relevant pedagogy or culturally responsive teaching, and how educators can use them in their CS learning environments. 

Meanwhile, our own research project at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Gender Balance in Computing, investigates particular approaches in school and non-formal learning and how they can impact on gender balance in Computer Science. For an overview of recent research around barriers to gender balance in school computing, look back on the research seminar by Katharine Childs from our team.

Peter and Billy themselves have recently been successful in obtaining funding for a research project to explore female computing performance and subject choice in English schools, a project they will be starting soon!

If you missed the seminar, watch recording here. You can also find Peter and Billy’s presentation slides on our seminars page.

Next up in our seminar series

In our next research seminar on Tuesday 2 February at 17:00–18:30 BST / 12:00–13:30 EDT / 9:00–10:30 PDT / 18:00–19:30 CEST, we’ll welcome Prof Tia Madkins (University of Texas at Austin), Dr Nicol R. Howard (University of Redlands), and Shomari Jones (Bellevue School District), who are going to talk to us about culturally responsive pedagogy and equity-focused teaching in K-12 Computer Science. To join this free online seminar, simply sign up with your name and email address.

Once you’ve signed up, we’ll email you the seminar meeting link and instructions for joining. If you attended Peter’s and Billy’s seminar, the link remains the same.

The post Computing education and underrepresentation: the data from England appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

Post Syndicated from Hady Mendez original https://blog.cloudflare.com/commit-to-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-every-day/

Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

The world is waking up
Protesting in the name of Black Lives Matter.
Reading the book “White Fragility”.
Watching the documentary “13th”.

The world is waking up to the fight against racism and I couldn’t be happier!

But let’s be clear: learning about anti-racism and being anti-racist are not the same things. Learning is a good first step and a necessary one. But if you don’t apply the knowledge you acquire, then you are not helping to move the needle.

Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

Since the murder of George Floyd at the hands/knees of the Minneapolis police, people all over the world have been focused on Black Lives Matter and anti-racism. At Cloudflare, we’ve seen an increase in cyberattacks, we’ve heard from the leadership of Afroflare, our Employee Resource Group for employees of African descent, and we held our first ever Day On, held on June 18, Cloudflare’s employee day of learning about bias, the history and psychological effects of racism,, and how racism can get baked into algorithms.

By way of this blog post, I want to share my thoughts about where I think we go from here and how I believe we can truly embody Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in our workplace.

Is diversity recruiting the answer to anti-racism in the workplace?

Many Cloudflarians said we should increase our diversity recruiting efforts as part of the feedback we received after our Day On event. But recruiting more diverse candidates only solves one part of the problem. There are still two major hurdles to overcome:

  • Employees need to feel welcome and have a sense of belonging
  • Employees need to feel valued and have an equal opportunity for career advancement

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) offer opportunities to foster community and a sense of belonging. But it is beyond the scope of an ERG to ensure all employees have equal opportunities for advancement. And honestly, this is where a lot of companies fall short. It’s the reason you see people sharing pictures and calling out management teams or boards of directors all over social media. Because there is a lack of visible signs of diversity at senior levels. Numbers can be misleading. A company might state, “We have 11% employees of this group or 8% of that group.” That’s great, but how many of these employees are thriving in their current roles and getting promoted at the same pace as their white counterparts? Or being compensated at the same rate as their male counterparts? The answers to those questions are much more telling, yet seldom shared.

Folks, if we are going to see meaningful change, we all need to get onboard with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It’s really not the type of thing that people can opt-in or out of. It won’t work. And even if, and when, everyone opts in to make DEI a priority, that won’t be enough. We won’t start to see real change until we are all living and breathing DEI day in and day out.

Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

What does committing to DEI every day look like?

Doing something (anything) every day that flexes our DEI muscles and gets us closer to meaningful outcomes.

Examples include:

  • Mentoring a person from an underrepresented group or asking someone from an underrepresented group to mentor you.
  • Scheduling coffee meetings with underrepresented people around the company and finding out how you can help to amplify their voices.
  • Providing candid, timely coaching to underrepresented employees to help them grow in their field or area of expertise.
  • Learning to value the different approaches and styles that people from underrepresented groups bring to the workplace.
  • Watching Cloudflare TV segments like, “Everyone at the Table” which airs weekly and promotes an open dialogue about everyday topics from the perspective of people with different perspectives.
  • Hosting office-wide or team-wide “listening circles” where employees can share what a just and equitable workplace looks like to them.
  • Requesting educational opportunities for your team or whole company such as implicit bias workshops or allyship workshops. Asking if your company’s leaders have attended similar workshops.
  • Asking your manager/team leadership how you may help increase the diversity of your team.
  • Suggesting ideas for building a more inclusive culture within your team such as running meetings in a manner where everyone has an equal opportunity to speak, keeping meetings and work social activities within working hours, and regularly hosting conversations about how the team can be more inclusive.
  • And finally – asking the opinion of someone from an under-represented group. This one is especially important since so many of us are not present when critical decisions are being made.
Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

Why is committing to DEI on a daily basis important?

  • Because it’s easier for us to do nothing. Keeping the status quo is easy. Coming together to change the system is hard work. Especially if everyone is not on board.
  • Because having a company full of underrepresented people who are not being heard, seen, celebrated, or promoted is not going to get us the outcomes we want. And trust me, it doesn’t take long to realize that you are not going to make it at a company. Racism, discrimination, and unfair treatment can be very subtle but under-represented people can tell when they are valued and appreciated. And when they are being set up to fail.
  • Because we know too much. The system is broken. Underrepresented groups have always known this. But now that it is a fact most people acknowledge and accept, we can’t ignore it. A wise woman once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” (Maya Angelou)

I’ll end my commentary with this: I view DEI as a journey that we must commit to every day. Here at Cloudflare. Across the tech industry. And in our world.

Notice I used the word journey. It’s not a destination in the sense that we do these 10 things and we have “arrived”. Instead, I believe it is a journey that we will always be on with milestones and achievements to be celebrated along the way.

To help you start flexing your DEI muscle, I’m kicking off a 21-Day DEI Challenge starting today! Every day, for the next 21 days, I challenge you to share in a public forum (bonus points for doing it on LinkedIn) how you are helping to move DEI forward. You can take a small step or a really big one. What matters is that you are flexing that muscle and challenging yourself (and others) to start the journey. #21DayDEIChallenge #BeAntiRacist #MoveTheNeedle

I hope you are up for the challenge that DEI offers us because the future of our company, industry, and society depends on it.

Commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Every Day

Postscript: This blog post is dedicated to the memory of the late Congressman John Lewis, a great civil rights leader and so much more, who challenged all of us to be brave enough to make noise and get into “good trouble” for the sake of justice and equality. Rest in Power, Mr. Lewis.