Diversity, Inclusion, Respect, and Student Support (Part 1)

I’ve just returned from SIGCSE2016, and my head is overflowing with ideas! Some highlights for me:

  • On Wednesday night I attended a workshop titled High Yield in the Short Term: Planning Strategically to Get Women into Your Major (Barker & Thompson, 2016). This workshop was useful to me in my role as a program chair, and it really got me to thinking about how we can encourage more women to major in Computer Science, Web Development, or Networking Systems and Technologies. The workshop allowed me to strategize and bounce ideas off of other faculty members. It also alerted me to the existence of organizations such as ACM-W and NCWIT. I now have a few ideas which I hope to implement campus-wide. Ultimately, this would be an ILSP which affects my entire department.
  • The Thursday keynote address was titled Cognitive Load Theory and Computer Science Education (Sweller, 2016). The general gist of his presentation was that computer science skills are biologically secondary, domain-specific skills, and as such, they require explicit instruction. Sweller stated: “[M]ost topics taught in educational and training institutions are ones that we have not specifically evolved to learn. Such topics require biologically secondary knowledge rather than the biologically primary knowledge that we have evolved to acquire”(2016).
  • Also on Thursday, I was asked to judge graduate students in a Student Research Competition. One really excellent presentation was presented by Maíra Marques of the Universidad de Chile. Here study was on the use of graduate monitors in group service-learning projects (Marques, 2016), and her data have convinced me that this is something I should consider in my capstone projects. Of course, we don’t have grad students at Wright College; however, this could be an appropriate role for an embedded tutor. (Incidentally, Marques won first place in the Student Research Competition.)
  • Saturday’s keynote speech was titled Lean In to the Evidence: Breaking the “Glass Slipper” of Technical Professions by Karen Lee Ashcraft (2016). Ashcraft (2016) explored the implicit gender biases that exist in various occupations, including computer science. This has led me to reexamine the wording of our TALEO ads for adjunct CIS faculty to make sure that there is no inadvertent bias.

In addition to the various workshops, competitions, and speakers, I was able to interact with many CS faculty members from all over the world. One evening I went out with faculty members from UIC and Lane Tech High School. We got to talking about race and computing classes, and I mentioned the book Stuck in the Shallow End (Margolis, 2008). Everyone at the table started laughing, and I was afraid I had said something wrong. It turned out that they laughed because the person sitting across the table from me was Joanna Goode, one of the contributors listed on the cover of the book. I really appreciated having the opportunity to meet with her face to face, and now I have a funny story to bring back to my department.


Asher, K.L. (2016). Lean In to the Evidence: Breaking the “Glass Slipper” of Technical Professions [PDF]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2839509.28460113

Barker, L.J. & Thompson, L.D., A.A.. (2016). High Yield in the Short Term: Planning Strategically to Get Women
into your Major [PDF]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2839509.2844691

Margolis, J. (2008). Stuck in the shallow end: Education, race, and computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marques, M. (2016). Monitoring – An Intervention to Improve Team Results in Software Engineering Education [PDF]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2839509.2851054

Sweller, J. (2016). Cognitive Load Theory and Computer Science Education [PDF]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2839509.