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In response to the need to broaden participation in computer science, we designed a summer camp to teach middle-school-aged youth to code apps with MIT App Inventor. For the past four summers, we have observed significant gains in youth's interest and self-efficacy in computer science, after attending our camps. The majority of these youth, however, were youth from our local community. To provide equal access across the state and secure more diversity, we were interested in examining the effect of the camp on a broader population of youth. Thus, we partnered with an outreach program to reach and test our camps on youth from low-income high-poverty areas in the Intermountain West. During the summer of 2019, we conducted two sets of camps: locally advertised app camps that attracted youth from our local community and a second set of camps as part of a larger outreach program for youth from low-income high-poverty areas. The camps for both populations followed the same design of personnel, camp activities, structure, and curriculum. However, the background of the participants was slightly different. Using survey data, we found that the local sample experienced significant gains in both self-efficacy and interest, while the outreach group only reported significant gains in self-efficacy after attending the camp. However, the qualitative data collected from the outreach participants indicated that they had a positive experience both with the camp and their mentors. In this article, we discuss the camp design and findings in relation to strategies for broadening participation in Computer Science education.
ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Nov 11, 2020
Keywords: Middle school youth
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