Project Profile

Culturally Relevant Computing Activities and Career Readiness for At-Risk Youth


This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by engaging in hands-on field experience, laboratory/project-based entrepreneurship tasks and mentorship experiences.

The project is designed to increase motivation and preparedness to pursue science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers and develop enhanced instructional and curricular innovations for underrepresented students at risk. The project investigates the potential of culturally relevant computing through an Esports (competitive digital gaming) living-learning community to advance needed computational and data analytic competencies towards STEM career readiness. The project will leverage activities within the industry to accomplish four goals: 1) Enhancing attitudes, awareness, motivation and participation through culturally relevant computing. 2) Developing learning pathways that provide Esports industry STEM competencies. 3) Creating a learning model that promotes collaborative knowledge sharing behaviors. 4) Providing high quality learning opportunities by establishing STEM enrichment experiences for underrepresented at-risk youth.

The project will take place on the rural East Stroudsburg University campus, providing a safe space for peer supported collaborative interaction and evolution towards self-ownership of STEM skills for this emerging workforce. The project will partner with a local agency that provides diversion from more restrictive environments for at-risk youth including foster care, juvenile probation or delinquency, out of home placement, and out of community placement. The project will engages participants in two 6-day living-learning, residential communities designed to leverage the cultural and advanced technical capacity of the Esports industry to provide a powerful learning experience to the participants. The youth will participate alongside learning scientists, digital media technologies faculty, computer scientists, support staff, and Esports coaches and industry professionals. They will replicate industry activities, modify in-game features and coding, design and develop graphics and website content, leverage digital media marketing data analytics, and produce video content. The research will use a pretest/posttest with a control and experimental group design that is grounded in the participatory research of culturally responsive methodology. Culturally responsive methodology encourages participants to be researcher participants as they self-reflect and actively participate in their learning pathways. The project will use a mixed methods approach to collect data and assess attitudes and behaviors which has the potential to result in powerful research outcomes that promote shared responsibility for accountability towards educational quality.

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)
Co-Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2018 - 2023
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, PA
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
High school (9-12)
Project Setting(s)
Informal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Computer and informational technology science
Target Participants
Youth / students
Additional Target Participants