Strategies for Bringing CS to All in Higher Education

Duke Computer Science Colloquium
Speaker Name
Christine Alvarado
Date and Time
D106 LSRC, Duke
Pizza will be served for lunch at 11:45.

In 2005, Harvey Mudd College made three changes that drastically increased the number of women who chose to major in computer science: a new introductory CS course, trips to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and research experiences for first-year students. The effect of these changes was amplified by the student-centric, close atmosphere of a small college like Harvey Mudd. However, the majority of higher education takes place in much larger settings: at large public universities and, increasingly, in massive open online courses (MOOCs). It is an open question how we can achieve similar changes in these much larger contexts, with a much more diverse student body.

In this talk I will give an overview of the programs we implemented at Harvey Mudd College that helped lead to gender parity in the major. Then I will present recent programs and pedagogies that we have implemented both at UC San Diego and in a massive open online course to increase students sense of community and belonging in computer science, particularly among women and men from racial, ethnic and/or socioeconomic groups underrepresented in computer science. Based on these experiences, I will reflect on the future of CS in higher education, on campus and beyond.

Short Biography

Christine Alvarado is an Associate Teaching Professor and Vice Chair for Undergraduate Affairs in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of California, San Diego. She received her undergraduate degree in computer science from Dartmouth in 1998, and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from MIT in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Her current efforts are focused on designing curriculum and programs to make computing and computing education more accessible and appealing, with the specific goal of increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities who study computing. In 2013 she received the A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award from the Anita Borg Institute for her contributions diversity in computer science education. She is currently a member of the AP Computer Science Principles development committee and the CRA's Education committee.

Owen Astrachan