Computer Science Education Research
Computer science is critical to our future, not only because of the number of computing-related jobs created every year, but also because it develops critical thinking skills needed to solve complex problems, creativity that fosters new ideas, and skills to drive innovation in tech and other fields.
Our research identifies strategies to improve perceptions of computer science and to broaden learning opportunities for all students.
Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap: Rural and Small-Town School Districts
This special brief from our Google-Gallup study dives into the opportunities and challenges for rural and small-town communities. Based on nationally representative surveys from 2015-16, we found:
Students from rural/small-town schools are just as likely as other students to see CS as important for their future careers, including 86% who believe they may have a job needing computer science.
Rural/small-town parents and principals also highly value CS, with 83% of parents and 64% of principals saying that offering CS is just as or more important than required courses.
Rural/small-town students are less likely to have access to CS classes and clubs at school compared to suburban students, and their parents are less likely to know of CS opportunities outside of school.
Rural/small-town principals are less likely to prioritize CS, compared to large-city or suburban principals.
Unconscious Bias in the Classroom: Evidence and Opportunities
In partnership with Stanford University and the American University we conducted this literature review to explore the theories and evidence of unconscious bias, as relevant to education, as well as interventions to mitigate its effects, particularly for underrepresented students. We found:
People consciously and unconsciously store experiences, and this process cannot be turned off and later influences automatic decision-making.
Exposure to unconscious bias can influence stereotyped groups to conform to stereotypes, even when the stereotype was initially untrue.
“Suppressing biases” is likely counterproductive; instead, interventions should encourage teachers to see students as individuals and build empathy and high expectations.
Teachers and classroom climate moderate the impact of unconscious bias, suggesting that teacher-facing interventions have potential to improve student outcomes.
Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor's Degrees
We partnered with the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and ETR on two complementary research reports that explore ways to encourage community college students to pursue bachelor’s degrees in computer science and related fields.
Students who transferred and earned CS bachelor’s degrees were particularly focused and fortunate among the 1.8M students who entered U.S. community colleges in 2007 (CCRC).
Community college students are confused about computer science transfer pathways from their community college to their target four-year institution, yet 60% of participants intended to transfer (ETR).
CS bachelor's degree earners in the dataset followed 1,213 distinct paths to graduation when accounting for lengths of enrollment, switches between schools, and numbers and durations of leaves (CCRC).
Community college students have limited knowledge of CS careers and how to prepare for jobs in CS-related fields (ETR).
Read the reports, A Longitudinal Analysis of Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor`s Degrees with CCRC and Student Perspectives of Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor`s Degrees with ETR. Share the infographic.
Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls, Blacks and Hispanics
This special report from Year 2 of our Google-Gallup study explores the structural and social barriers underrepresented groups face at home, in schools, and in society that could influence their likelihood to enter the computer science field. We found:
Girls are less likely than boys to be aware of CS learning outside school, encouraged by teachers or parents, and interested in learning CS.
Black and Hispanic students are more interested and their parents are more likely to want them to learn CS compared to their White counterparts.
Black and Hispanic students face discrepancies in access and exposure to CS classes and to computer use at home and school.
Students rarely see computer scientists like themselves in the media, particularly girls and Hispanics.
Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 Schools
Year 2 of our Google-Gallup study explores changes on key measures from Year 1 and uncovers new insights, surveying over 1,600 students, 1,600 parents, 1,000 teachers, 9,800 principals, and 2,300 superintendents. We found:
40% of principals report having CS classes with programming/coding , increasing from 25% in Year 1.
Positive perceptions of CS learning and careers persist among all groups.
Few parents and teachers have specifically expressed support for CS education to school officials, despite their high value of CS learning.
Opportunities exist to incorporate CS into other subjects and train enthusiastic teachers.
Share the infographic.
Computer Science Education In Spain 2015
In collaboration with Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and everis, we conducted a landscape study to understand the current state of CS education in primary and secondary schools in Spain, examining the awareness of computer science by key stakeholders, and identifying existing barriers and opportunities to making CS education available to all Spanish students. Some findings include:
Improving the lack of understanding and awareness of what CS is and its practical applications among students and parents is one of the most critical factors to advance CS education.
Parents’ concerns are barriers to encouraging their children to study CS, including concerns about its difficulty, excessive usage of digital devices and issues of cyber security.
Parents play an active role in students' decisions to pursue CS study, especially for girls, who sometimes perceive their parents as not encouraging them to pursue CS.
Encouraging and supporting teacher professional development is essential to facilitating the widespread integration of CS into the curriculum.
K-12 Computer Science Education: U.S. State Reports
The following reports summarize the status of computer science education for 11 U.S. states from our 2014- 15 Google-Gallup survey of 9,693 K-12 school principals and offer recommendations for each state to broaden access to and participation in computer science learning.
Images of Computer Science: Perceptions Among Students, Parents and Educators in the U.S.
The second report of our research study with Gallup, Inc. dives into our data from nearly 16,000 respondents to explore participation in and perceptions of computer science and related careers as well as associated demographic differences. We found:
Confusion between computer science activities and general computer literacy is prevalent among students, parents and educators.
Stereotypes on who engages in CS persist in media portrayals as well as in students’, parents’ and educators’ personal perceptions.
CS careers are viewed favorably, with parents in low-income households and teachers with greater free-/reduced-lunch students most likely to value CS.
Hispanic, female or lower-income students are less likely to have learned CS compared to their counterparts.
Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education
To understand perceptions of computer science and associated opportunities, participation, and barriers, we worked with Gallup, Inc. to survey over 1,600 students, 1,600 parents, 1,000 teachers, 9,600 principals, and 1,800 superintendents. We found:
Exposure to computer technology is vital to building student confidence for computer science learning.
Opportunities to learn computer science at schools is limited for most students. When available, courses are not comprehensive.
Demand for CS in schools is high amongst students and parents, but school and district administrators underestimate this interest.
Barriers to offering computer science in schools include testing requirements for other subjects and limited availability and budget for qualified teachers.
Women Who Choose Computer Science—What Really Matters
The proportion of bachelor’s degrees in CS earned by women has dropped from 37% in 1984 to 18% in 2014. To understand how to reverse this trend, we studied 1,700+ students in the U.S. to identify the primary drivers that motivate young women to pursue CS. We found:
Social encouragement from parents, educators, family, friends, and the media all play a large role in influencing girls to pursue CS.
Career perception is often incomplete, so we need to diversify portrayals of computer scientists and show the wide applicability of computing across fields.
Academic exposure builds interest and competency in CS; anyone can advocate for CS in schools and identify opportunities in the community or online.
Self-perception plays a key role and should be reinforced through carefully unbiased culture.