Project Profile

Peer-learning communities to develop rural, African American girls' computer science knowledge and career awareness


This project tackles the urgent need to encourage and support young, African American women to pursue studies and careers in computer science (CS). The researchers will design year-long activities that include workshops and an online peer learning community to immerse 120 female African American high school students from Alabama in computing content and career awareness. The program begins with an intense summer experience that prepares students for the College Board's Advanced Placement CS Principles (CSP) course. Online and face-to-face interactions continue throughout the academic year, and students will learn advanced computing concepts through culturally-responsive instruction, project-based learning, and by connecting new learning experiences to their personal lives and career aspirations. African American women constitute a mere 3% of the computing workforce. The project's learning communities are designed to address the challenges faced in helping young women of color realize their potential for participation in computer science and other STEM-related occupations. This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).

The research questions examine how participation in the program: (1) increases self-efficacy and competency with computer science; (2) improves attitudes towards computer science and lead to academic choices to strengthen their proficiency; (3) raises awareness and desires to pursue computer science careers, and; (4) reduces social and cultural barriers that might reduce students' likelihood of pursuing CS and related professions. Findings from this research will be disseminated through journal and conference publications, presentations, and social media to benefit the national computer science education community. The generated knowledge and research will illuminate factors central to promoting interest in computer science among young women of color from rural and other settings and cultivating their persistence in pursuing computer science and related STEM careers.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


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Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
1759421, 1759262, 1759197
Project Duration
2018 - 2023
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, .
Tuskegee University, .
Oakland University, .
Project Status