Posted: Tue, 08/24/2021 - 12:53 pm EDT
As part of my series on how your classroom and school fit into the larger CS equity movement, Assessing CS in Your High School, I have explored two of the three elements of equity—access and diversity. This post provides information about the third element, inclusion.
Evaluating and Tracking Inclusion
Inclusion in the CS classroom refers to the experiences students have once they are part of a CS class. If we use outdated teaching methods, students are less likely to have a positive experience with CS and less likely to pursue the topic further. This is especially true for students underrepresented in CS. Inclusion is essential to providing CS equity, but it is more difficult to measure. There aren’t numbers that fit neatly into a spreadsheet that represent the overall experience of students in the classroom. There is no one checklist of items that can be checked off.
The goal is to have a thoughtful approach to equity established for each CS course. The Guide to Inclusive Computer Science Education provides categories to consider to that end:
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. Does the learning space and curriculum include examples of role models from different backgrounds? Are culturally relevant practices implemented to build relationships with students and prepare them for rigorous content? Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain is an essential resource for every CS teacher.
- Engaging Curriculum. Are equity-focused pedagogies (student-centered, inquiry-based, activity-based, project-based, etc.) used? Are the topics relevant to the students, when possible? Is student voice encouraged in activities and projects?
- Universal Design. Are efforts made to make the curriculum accessible to more students? Examples include providing information in multiple formats and providing a text-to-voice reader for students with reading disabilities.
How to Use the Spreadsheet
The CS Equity in High School spreadsheet includes a tab for Inclusion, but there are no numbers or formulas. It provides space to document the approach for inclusion for each course and to make a subjective decision about if school goals are met.
The grey cells are cells that you edit. The purple text is sample text that you will replace with real data. The italic text is descriptive and will be replaced with real data.
The efforts described in this series may seem like a lot for a single teacher to take on. Ideally, this work is part of a larger effort that grows over time to include multiple schools and the district. The district can provide training, resources, and leadership needed for long-term change. They can also increase the level of assessment to include more detail across grade bands and schools and across school years. CSforAll’s SCRIPT program is ideal for a district-level assessment of equitable computer science.
All of that is ideal, but change often starts with a single, passionate teacher. This could be you!
Carol Ramsey has researched using narrative as pedagogy to increase interest and engagement in STEM for girls and managed programs developing equity-focused curriculum and teacher professional development. She holds a computer science degree and has 20 years of experience as a software developer and program manager.