The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded funding to six institutions from the California State University (CSU) system, including CSUDH, to help transform the early curriculum experience of historically marginalized students in computing.
The alliance brings together CSUDH, CSU Fullerton, CSU Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and San Francisco State University, campuses which have identified that a disproportionate percentage of underrepresented minority students drop out of their computer science major in the first two years of study. The project’s goal is for professors to show students through their initial coursework how the study of computer science can influence and impact the communities they are from.
“Students, through the Culturally Responsive Curriculum, will work on a set of problems related to their community,” said Mohsen Beheshti, chair and professor of computer science at CSUDH. “They will understand how the field of computing can more effectively solve problems their community faces every day and how they can make a difference in their community with their degree.”
According to the proposal, the new curriculum should help “transform early student experience in computing with the integration of socially responsible computing curriculum.” The NSF grant will help to fund the program redesign, with the project team focusing in particular on the retention of Hispanic and Latinx students.
“By implementing changes in the early computing curriculum, students will gain a better understanding of how to apply computing to positively impact their communities with the tools they learn in their courses,” said Dr. Zoë Wood, a Cal Poly computer science professor and the program’s principal investigator.
“Our hope is that by showing how computing skills can be applied to a wide variety of applications—for example, helping local nonprofits with their computing needs—students will perceive computing as a discipline that offers opportunities for achieving communal goals.”