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Social Perceptions in Computer Science and Implications for Diverse Students

Jennifer Wang
Juliet Tiffany-Morales
ICER, ACM (2017)
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The barriers to diversity in computer science (CS) are complex, consisting of both structural and social barriers. In this paper, we focus on social perceptions for students in grades 7-12 in the U.S. Through surveys of nationally representative samples of 1,672 students, 1,677 parents, 1,008 teachers, 9,805 principals, and 2,307 superintendents, we built on qualitative work by Lewis, Anderson, and Yasuhara [1,2] to understand social beliefs around students’ fit and ability as well the external context, as related to students’ interest. We contribute a holistic perspective of pre-university students, confirming much research on gender differences in social perceptions in CS while identifying new findings for race/ethnicity, specifically Black and Hispanic students. As K-12 CS expands, these findings can inform differentiation strategies in equitably engaging K-12 students.

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