How can we encourage a growth mindset amongst students regarding Computer Science? How can we motivate students to believe that they too can engage in Computer Science? People usually say that those able to do Computer Science are those that are either of a certain race, gender, economic standing or level of intellect, but I wonder what has made them come to such conclusions? Does this mean that our personal beliefs on whether or not a student is capable or worthy of being taught the subject area could affect our ability to teach them? How then can we dismantle such biases and do our best to provide them with the same opportunities as others?

When Computer Science is seen as a subject that is only exclusive to a certain kind of student, are we truly providing an inclusive education to all students? In describing what a student interested in Computer Science might look like, we may describe them as a person of a certain apprearance and even ethnicity, reflecting a very limited representation of other types of students within this realm. Many educators might suggest that the lack of teaching Computer Science may be a result of scarce resources or a lack of interest on behalf of students. This makes me think that they are not willing to take a step further and try to overcome the obstacles that could potentially hold a student back from tapping into their full and for some, dormant potential of excelling in the areas of computational thinking.

How can we truly overcome the bias, economic and social obstacles to help students see themselves as capable enough to engage in Computer Science? Encouraging students while providing them with the opportunities to engage in Computer Science is what can set a student on a path to break down barriers and discover a new subject that they may have not even knew of.  From this, I also believe that as educators, we can be driving forcing that mark the difference in our student’s beliefs about themselves through the additional supports we provide.

 In a few sentences describe what your Scratch Program says about you. This Scratch program speaks a lot on my love for music as I included my laptop, used for musical purposes, a radio (which I listen to daily) and a drum set, which is my favorite instrument to play. Additionally, I included my laptop because besides its musical purposes, it is what I use most throughout my day. I also included a taco in as one of my favorite foods to appeal to anyone who also shares that same favorite food. In terms of the setting for the program, the bedroom backdrops speaks to my homey nature as I love being in my room. ☞ What is one new thing in Scratch you learned while creating this program? While creating this program, I learned how to change sounds according to what I wanted when a certain sprite was clicked. I was able to look through all of the choices and test the sounds that I wanted to choose.

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August 25, 2021 3:28 pm

Dear Aniya: 

I am appreciative for your post, “Computer Science: A Need, Not a Choice” because you ask a lot of deep questions about providing access to computer science for all students. Additionally, your inquiry probes how certain bias and stereotypes about computer science exist and this makes me think about how our role as educators can support the changing of those ideas. 
One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “Many educators might suggest that the lack of teaching Computer Science may be a result of scarce resources or a lack of interest on behalf of students.” I strongly believe that educators need to be responsive to the needs and interests of their students. In respects to computer science, if this is an interest of our students, even for one individual, it is necessary for us to discover a way to include it. Also, if students are not exposed, how do we know that they are not interested? In addition to personal interests, it is a twenty-first century skill that has many advantages for our students’ futures. Scarcity of resources is a real issue that schools and educators face. On a positive note, the more we learn about computational thinking and computer science, the more resourceful we can become. This makes me think that providing professional development and learning experiences for educators should be an encouraged part of their pre-service and continuing education requirements.  

Another sentence that struck me was: “People usually say that those able to do Computer Science are those that are either of a certain race, gender, economic standing or level of intellect, but I wonder what has made them come to such conclusions?.” This stood out for me because it reminds me of the study that was done asking young people to draw pictures of a scientist. The article, What We Learn From 50 Years of Kids Drawing Scientists, explains that many children often drew a male scientist when given the prompt. In the article, Alice Eagly, a psychologist from Northwestern University states this about the study:“In the long run, stereotypes reflect what people observe in everyday life. They are not myths.” My connection with this study and your question is that it reminds me how important it is to make sure that our classrooms are representative of our diverse world. To support this shift, educators can offer the stories and glimpses into the lives of diverse computer scientists and coders to serve as mirrors and windows. These experiences are significant so that learners can see themselves reflected within the computer science world and develop understandings about the wider world in general. 

 Have you seen this article, 3 Reasons why Students Aren’t Into Computer Science – Yet? I thought you might be interested in this because the author, Jaime Perez, seeks to understand why students aren’t interested in computer science. He includes three reasons for why he believes there is a low interest in studying computer science at a higher level. One is exposure – he remarks how he never took a class in high school. Another is social factors, where he includes his thinking that there is a disconnect between what computer science actually is and how it needs to be explained in connected to an individual’s interests. 

Thanks for your writing and sharing your ideas. 


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