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Project Overview

Access to technology careers is an urgent equity issue. Technology jobs are more remunerative and recession-proof than other occupations, but many minoritized populations (including women, Latinx, and Black workers) are starkly underrepresented in these professions. This project includes a pair of studies aimed at understanding how to promote success in computer science (CS) education for minoritized learners in Illinois. These studies would examine the current K-12 infrastructure for starting minoritized learners on CS pathways, as well as individual-level factors that encourage or discourage minoritized learners from persisting in CS in post-secondary education or alternative pathways.

Project Research Questions

The two-part study will seek to answer the following research questions:

  1. How are districts across the state—particularly in remote rural areas and urban centers—preparing to meet the new requirement around computer science courses? Are districts considering equitable access to CS education in their planning? If so, how?
  2. Which districts, such as Chicago Public Schools, already have a robust computer science curriculum? Do students in these districts perform well and pursue further training after high school?
  3. How are districts, especially rural and small ones, staffing computer science courses when they cannot carry a full-time computer science teacher? What staff structures have the best outcomes for students?
  4. What happens to historically marginalized students who take computer science courses in high school after they graduate?
  5. What can we learn about students who enroll in a computer science degree program in college and then transfer to another major? Why do they choose not to pursue the degree?
  6. What can we learn from students who do the opposite and transfer into a computer science major?

Project Team

SWerner 500x500

Stephanie Werner

Postdoctoral Research Associate, IWERC

Project Director


Raya UIUC Headshot

Raya Hegeman-Davis

Computer Science Teacher Education Program Coordinator, UIUC College of Education


raya@illinois.edu

Mark Harris

Mark Harris

Director, Community Education – Pritzker Tech Talent Labs 


markh3@uillinois.edu

Charity Freeman Associate Director of Teacher Training

Charity Freeman

Associate Director, Teacher Training, Community Education – Pritzker Tech Talent Labs


charityf@uillinois.edu

Judith Kom Nguiffo

Judith Kom Nguiffo

Graduate Research Assistant, IWERC


jck9@illinois.edu