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EOT: Building a Regional
    Wednesday July 18, 2012 2:45pm - 3:15pm @ Burnham 8th Floor

    EOT: Building a Regional Partnership for Computer Science Education

    Abstract: University of California San Diego (UCSD) piloted a new computer science course for the undergraduate curriculum, “Introduction to Computer Science (CS) Principles” in fall of 2010, with significant gains in student interest in CS and performance in the course (when compared with the traditional introductory CS course), particularly among women and minority students. Approved for credit and taught by Dr. Beth Simon, the course was contextual, conceptual, and constructivist in its approach to programming; building interest and enthusiasm for the “magic” of computing before introducing programming mechanics. This lower division course was designed as part of a revised AP Computer Science sequence for high schools, to be coupled with revised and updated AP tests that include the underlying computing principles. Since AP tests drive high school curriculum, their revision has the potential to significantly change the way that computer science is introduced to students in high schools nationwide.

    But introducing new courses into a region with many districts and a highly diverse student population poses many challenges. The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UCSD conducted an exploratory project to identify and build the collaborative networks necessary to support sustainable change in the San Diego region’s pre-college computer science education programs. This paper reports on SDSC’s activities to engage the diverse stakeholders whose support is critical to successfully introducing and sustaining this new course San Diego County schools. 

    Though the project was spearheaded by SDSC, it involved many other leadership partners from UCSD, other colleges in the region, the San Diego County Office of Education, the San Diego chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, district administrators and technology specialists, and high school teachers. 

    The primary activities of this project were identification of key stakeholders within the K-12 and community college school districts serving students in the San Diego County region, meeting with those stakeholders, presenting the case for the course to elected officials identified by district personnel, and development of action agendas to support the establishment of functional partnerships for further collaboration toward project objectives. Those objectives included: 

    • Outline protocols, processes, and decision criteria for strengthening the computer science curriculum in each district; and strategies for using them to support the larger project goals; 

    • Identify key decision makers whose endorsement was needed for district-wide implementation;

    • Identify leaders within districts (teachers, professional development specialists, technology specialists, and administrators) willing to become the first cohort Teacher Leadership Team to introduce the not-yet-but- soon-to-be AP CS Principles course into the San Diego region; and

    • Provide professional development for the leadership team to become familiar with the pilot “Introduction to Computer Science Principles” course launched at UCSD in 2010-2011. 

    This project benefited tremendously from the generous sharing of lessons learned by experienced colleagues from the Los Angeles-based “Into the Loop” project. Their advice helped us better understand the complex challenges to implementation of comprehensive revision of the high school computer science curriculum, and to adapt some of their strategies to create a San Diego regional coalition.



    Type Education Outreach and Training Track

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