When and Where:
Undergraduate Course 15-296
Monday and Wednesday, Friday 10:30am - 11:50am
Instructor: Dr. Carol Frieze
Units: 5 (mini)
“While there are likely many factors that contribute to the low interest in computer science, we believe that misperceptions and negative images play a signiﬁcant role. Image is important. As long as teenagers believe that computer science is boring, difﬁcult, antisocial, or doesn’t have much impact on solving the world’s problems, they’re unlikely to choose it for their future.”
[WGBH Market Research Report, http://www.acm.org/membership/NIC.pdf]
“There is no doubt that there is a tremendous demand for students with computing skills. Indeed, vast shortfalls in information technology workers in the coming decade have been predicted."
"(T)here is a pressing need to broaden participation in the study of computer science and attract the full range of talent to the field, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or economic status. Institutions should make efforts to bring a wide range of students into the computer science pipeline and provide support structures to help all students successfully complete their programs.”
[Computer Science Curricula 2013, p.3]
[Computer Science Curricula 2013, p.47]
In this research and action based course we will explore computing
from a cultural perspective and look in particular at the images of computing. We will examine how the field is represented in the popular culture of the USA and how such representations might affect public attitudes, access to resources and understanding of computer science. We will reflect on some issues often taken
for granted e.g. are our attitudes to computing culturally
specific? Is computing and its workforce perceived and represented differently in cultures from around the world? Do computer scientists have a role to play in shaping perceptions of computing?
This course is aimed primarily at students who are interested in exploring
some of the broad issues of computer science and who would like to direct
their interests towards creative outreach activities, thus also gaining
experience in teamwork, teaching and presenting. We will use academic papers, web sites, group discussion/debate and popular media. Findings from our investigations will inspire the action component in which student teams develop and implement a public outreach presentation aimed at re-presenting the exciting field of computer science with broad appeal in mind.
Students will be graded primarily on the quality of their performance
in one paper, an outreach assignment and a final paper.
The assignments will constitute 85% of the final grade with grades assigned 25%, 30%, and 30%, to each
Class attendance, presentations and participation are critical to doing well in this course and will count for 15%
of the final grade.
Part 1. Introduction
and Overview: Culture, Images and Meaning
- What are the issues?
- What do we mean by Culture?
- Why are Images important?
- What do we mean by Computing and/or Computer Science?
- Culture, Images and Meaning, ..... What has this to do with Computing?
- Sanjeev Arora and Bernard Chazelle, “Is the Thrill Gone?” Communications ACM 48 (2005), 31-33.
- Kevin Carey, Decoding the Value of Computer Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 2010
- Cameron Wilson, et al, "Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age", ACM, 2010 (Summary)
- Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary”, originally
published in N. McKenzie (ed.), Convictions, 1958 Culture Definitions
- Fred G. Harold, "The Two Cultures in Computing", ACM, 1988
- C.P. Snow. “The Two Cultures”, Leonardo, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, New Foundations: Classroom Lessons in Art/Science/Technology for the 1990s. MIT Press, 1990, pp. 169-173. (“The Two Cultures” first published 1956)
- Roland Barthes, Selections from “Rhetoric of the Image”, Image, music, text, 1977
- What is Computing/Computer Science? ACM: and Wikipedia
- Peter Denning. "The Great Principles of Computing", American Scientists, the magazine of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, 2014
- C.Diane Martin. "Digital Dreams: Public Perceptions about Computers", ACM, Inroads, Vol.4, No.3. 2013
- CSTA Task Force, "Ensuring Exemplary Teaching in an Essential Discipline: Addressing the Crisis in Computer Science Teacher Certification”, Executive Summary, CSTA 2008, pages 11-15.
Part 2: Images of the Field (USA): Participation, Myths, Stereotypes and Challenges
- Why “Images”? Why might we need to broaden images of
- Participation in Computer Science: Data from the USA
- Broadening Participation in Computer Science: Why does this Matter?
- Myths and Stereotypes Team Presentations
- The Data: Selections relating to undergraduate participation: CRA 2013 Taulbee Report
- Deepak Kumar, "Ready for a third peak?", Featured columns: ACM Inroads, Vol.2. Number 3, 2011
- Leah Hoffman, "Computer Science and the Three Rs", Communications of the ACM, Vol. 55, Oct. 2012
- Richard Ladner, ACM Viewpoints "Broadening Participation", Communications of the ACM, Vol.52, No. 12, 2009
- C. Dianne Martin, ENIAC: Press Conference That Shook the World, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Winter, 1995/1996
- Orit Hazzan, “Diversity
on Computing: A Means or a Target?”, System Design Frontier Journal
- Blum, L. and Frieze, C. "In
a More Balanced Computer Science Environment, Similarity is the
Difference and Computer Science is the Winner," Computing
Research News, Vol. 17/No. 3 2005(a)
- Sheryl Burgstahler, Richard E. Ladner, Scott Bellman, "Strategies for Increasing the Participation in Computing of Students with Disabilities", ACM In roads, Dec. 2012, Vol. 3, No. 4
- Claude Steele “A
Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity
and Performance”, American Psychologist. Volume: 52.
Issue: 6. 1997. Page Number: 613. 2003 Dec Vol 95(4) 796-805
- Shih, M., Pettinsky, T. and Trahan, A. “Domain
Specific Effects of Stereotypes on Performance”, Faculty
Research Working Papers Series, Harvard School of Government,
- Paloheimo, A. and Stenman, J. "Gender, Communication and Comfort Level in Higher Level
Computer Science Education – Case Study", 36th
ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, 2006
- Time Magazine “Person the the Year 2010”, Mark Zuckerberg, video and Time article
- Claire Cain Miller, "Computer Studies Made Cool, on Film and Now on Campus" NYT, June 10, 2011
Part 3: Outreach and Broadening Understanding of Computer Science
"Computer science is nothing less than a new way of thinking;
explaining it to the wider world is critical to the future of the
field." [S. Arora, B. Chazelle, Communications ACM 48 (2005),
This assignment involves a Team Presentation plus Individual Paper.
- Presenting New Images of the Field and the People in it
- Final Outreach Projects: Public Presentations (in Teams) and Related Paper (Individual)
- Teamwork vs groupwork
- Discussion of Outreach Project.
Factors to consider:
- What are your aims?
- Who is your target audience? e.g. elementary students, middle
school, high school, college level students, parents, teachers,
people with disabilities?
- How long should the presentation be?
- How will you measure impact?
- What will you include in your paper?
Deadlines: Part 1. Last Outreach by TBA, Part 2. Reports by TBA
Some examples of Outreach Programs
Part 4. A Global Perspective on Computing
- Case studies from other countries
and cultures. Team Presentations
- Are there different levels of participation in computing and computer science in other countries?
- Why might this be?
- Is computing perceived differently in different countries and cultures?
Final Paper. Assignment Details Deadline TBA
- ** Joyojeet Pal. “Of
mouse and men: Computers and geeks as cinematic icons in the age
of ICTD” iConference 2010
- ** Paul Brand and Anke Schwittey. "The
Missing Piece: Human-Driven Design and Research in ICT and Development",
- ** Kenneth Kraemer, Jason Dedrick, and Prakul Sharma. "One Laptop Per Child: Vision vs. Reality", Communications of the ACM, 2009
- ** Leonard Lynn and Harold Salzman. "The
Real Global Technology Challenge”, Change, July/August
- Joel Adams, Vimala Bauer, and Shankuntala Baichoo. "An Expanding Pipeline: Gender in Mauritius", ACM, SIGCSE 2003
- Tim Bell. “Establishing a Nationwide CS Curriculum in New Zealand High Schools”,
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 57 No. 2, Pages 28-30, 2014
- Ming Zhang and Virginia M. Lo. “Undergraduate Computer Science Education in China”, SIGCSE 2010
- Lawrence Snyder. "Status Update: High School CS Internationally", ACM INROADS, Vol. 3, June, 2012
- Jianwei Zhang. "A cultural look at information and communication technologies in Eastern education", Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 2007
- Florence Chee. "Understanding Korean experiences of online game hype, identity, and the menace of the "Wang-tta", Proceedings of DiGRA Conference: Changing Views – Worlds in Play, 2005
- Martin Bush. "Computer Science Education in Japan", Communications of the ACM, 2004
- Mazliza Othman and Rodziah Latih. “Women
in Computer Science: NO SHORTAGE HERE!” Communications
of the ACM, Vol. 49. Number 3, 2006
- Antonio Cartelli. "Computer Science Education in Italy: A Survey", SIGCSE, Vol 34, No. 4 2002
Guidelines for Readings, Presentations and Discussion
Be prepared to discuss/present:
-- a brief summary of the paper
-- the main argument/points made by the author
-- the evidence given to support the argument
-- any key words/phrases
-- what questions are raised?
-- what did you learn?
-- what did you find particularly interesting?
-- do you agree/disgree with the argument made by the author?
-- in what way(s) does the paper relate to this class?
-- any other points ....