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Rochester Institute of Tech, Bradley U to Evaluate Effectiveness of K-12 Computer Skills Initiatives

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Bradley University have won a $1.19 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the effectiveness of K-12 efforts to encourage computing skills.

The research will examine programs like, Black Girls Code and summer computer camps to test their true impact and identify best practices for long-term success.

"Seeing the explosion of these organizations, the questions we naturally asked were, 'Does this work and what parts are working best?'" Decker said. "There is little to no longitudinal data that exists, so we are setting out to find the answers."

The research will be conducted by Adrienne Decker, an assistant professor of interactive games at Rochester, and Monica McGill, an associate professor of game design at Bradley.

Decker and McGill have already conducted a pilot online survey of students at six universities, including their own, to evaluate what programs they might have participated in before entering college, what they remember and how it impacted them.

With the help of the grant, they will expand that research to understand the past and current state of affairs with programs and activities that focus on teaching computer science before college. The researchers plan to look at demographic factors, including gender and ethnicity, to help identify what activities work best for which students.

The grant for the project — titled "Collaborative Research: Establishing and Propagating a Model for Evaluating the Long-Term Impact of Pre-College Computing Activities" — is one of several new grants announced Sept. 15 at a White House Computer Science for All Summit. The NSF will spend $25 million over the next year and a half to train teachers in and conduct research on K-12 computing.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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