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Impacting the Inclusivity Mindset of Online Computer Science Students Public Deposited

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  • While online Computer Science (CS) degree programs can attract diverse students, many students still feel excluded in the online CS classroom. One reason students feel excluded is because their gender is underrepresented among their classmates. At Oregon State University, only 27% of online CS students are women. This is better than the on-campus statistic—12%—but still very far from gender parity. This can lead to such experiences as a student being the only woman in their course project team of five. To help women—and all online CS students—feel more included, we created new, online-specific course materials for teaching students to design inclusive software. The course materials incorporated research findings about cognitive differences in how people problem-solve in software. It also covered a method for designing software to support cognitively diverse users. The research and methods both originated from the The GenderMag Project, an OSU-based research group that has developed multiple methods for gender-inclusive design. Online CS faculty incorporated the new course materials into their existing CS content and we measured the effects through a field study with 75 online CS students. Students who experienced the curriculum felt included by it, used it to examine their own biases, and behaved inclusively toward their peers. This paper discusses a subset of the course activities, methods and findings from one online CS course.
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  • Letaw, L. & Garcia, H. (2022). Impacting the inclusivity mindset of online computer science students. White Paper. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit.
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