Discussion

Global Citizenship and CS Majors: Article Response

What comes to mind when you think of Global Citizenship? 

EdSurge recently published an opinion article: "Let's Teach Computer Science Majors to be Good Citizens. The Whole World Depends on It" that shares some interesting information:

  • National study involving a multiyear examination of how student worldviews are changing at more than 120 colleges and universities (IDEALS)
  • more than 5,500 responses pre/post 4 years
  • This study sought to uncover how students are changing in college, including how their academic majors might have an effect on their beliefs and attitudes.
  • The number of computer science majors who highly agreed with these statements decreased across their four years in college and resulted in lower overall citizenship scores when compared to students in other majors.
  • In other words, students in computer science were graduating college with less preparation than students in all other majors to become agents of responsible change in an increasingly global citizenry.

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2021-03-15-let-s-teach-computer-science-majors-to-be-good-citizens-the-whole-world-depends-on-it

Graphic showing specific college majors' commitment to global citizenship. CS majors' commitment decreased 4.4% over 4 years.

 

Responses, reflections, ideas welcome!!

WHAT - What observations can we make about this study?

SO WHAT - What does this mean to us at CS educators? What possible implications does this study have for CS education?

NOW WHAT - So what can we do about this? How does K-12 CS education play into this?

 

Comments

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Submitted by Rebekah Lang on Sun, 04/11/2021 - 11:30 am EDT

Fascinating! I looked to see how they were measuring students' commitment to global citizenship and this is what it says:

Of particular interest to us was students’ citizenship, or their level of agreement (strongly agree, somewhat agree, and so on) with these four statements at the beginning and end of their college careers:

* I am actively working to foster justice in the world.

*I frequently think about the global problems of our time and how I will contribute to resolving them.

*I am currently taking steps to improve the lives of people around the world.

*I am actively learning about people across the globe who have different religious and cultural ways of life than I do.

... The number of computer science majors who highly agreed with these statements decreased across their four years in college and resulted in lower overall citizenship scores when compared to students in other majors.

 

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I wonder how the phrasing of these statements affected the data. As an English major in undergrad, this wording sounds very "liberal-arts" like to me. Abstract phrases about valuing cultures and making a difference are things we'd talk about all the time in class. But engineers and computer scientists and business people absolutely do work with global impacts all the time--even if they don't talk about it idealistically in classes and score well on these studies. They work with data, they build and design infrastructure, they market and produce and connect with people internationally and make the world better by doing so. 

I suppose I'm wondering if we need better phrasing and PR more than we need to rethink our curricula. (I mean, we can always improve curricula to make it more relevant, but so can all other subjects).