Game Design with Mentoring for Computer Science and Math Achievement for Educationally Disadvantaged Students
Two successive MESA cohorts totaling 80 local underrepresented high school students take a one-year introductory computer game programming course at the university and at their high school, along with mentoring and other activities.
This project will utilize computer graphics, game development and mutual mentoring as elements in an innovative Computer Science curriculum for two cohorts of underrepresented high school students. The design, development and implementation of this curriculum will be conducted through a partnership of California State Sacramento (the Department of Computer Science and the College of Education), Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) and local K-12 schools. Key goals of the project are to test the new curriculum's efficacy for 1) increasing the likelihood that students will study computer science in college, 2) improving students' readiness to study computer science and mathematics in college, and 3) determining which of two computer languages that are candidates for use in the curriculum is best suited for engaging students and promoting their understanding of computer science. Another major component of the proposed project is mutual mentoring which will form a mentoring pipeline from the early grades through high school and into college: elementary students will test games and meet with high school students; middle school students will test the games that high school students develop; and teachers and faculty will mentor high school students. To achieve its goals, project includes the following elements: - Two consecutive MESA cohorts of introductory computer science high school students (one cohort for each of the two programming languages), - Mutual mentoring for the high school students by college students, - Involvement of middle/elementary school students in field-testing, - Professional development for educators, - Support modules for educators and students, including training, mentoring panels, learning circles, and bonding events. A robust project evaluation will document whether project objectives have been achieved, how the project worked in implementation and what were its strengths and weaknesses, and measure the outcomes and benefits for participants. The evaluation will investigate whether learning computer programming - specifically game programming - provided a domain in which students found mathematical problem-solving relevant and exciting.