Keep Students Engaged in Computing This Back to School Season

Not only can educators and family members spark students’ interest in computing, but they can also influence a student’s decision to persist in pursuing technology degrees and careers.

How? As cliché as it sounds, even the smallest “you can do it” goes a long way. Research shows encouragement matters and plays a critical role in engaging more young women and girls in computing. For example, girls who have the combined support of parents and teachers say that they are three times more likely to study computer science than girls who don’t have that support! [source: “Bridging the Encouragement Gap in Computing”]

This “Back to School” season, focus on retaining K-12 and postsecondary students in computing through encouragement, curriculum, student support, and more:

  • EncouragementThumbEncourage and help students envision success. For example, recognize effort, strategies, and behaviors: ‘It’s obvious you put a lot of work into this project.’ or ‘Great idea to brainstorm and plan before jumping in!’ You don’t have to be comfortable with math, science, or technology to be positive. Find more ways that family members can encourage interest in computing in this list:

  • CurriculumThumbRetain with curriculum by using everyday examples, meaningful assignments, and relevant courses. For example, put the concepts of computing in appealing contexts and build on existing competence. Find more ways to energize and empower students with EngageCSEdu, which offers faculty-contributed, peer-reviewed introductory computer science course materials:  

  • EnvironmentThumbRetain with student support by creating a sense of belonging and identity as a member of the field. For example, build an inclusive environment. The design and décor of the physical spaces where people work contain signals about who does and who does not belong there. Identify both inclusive and exclusive characteristics of the physical environment (workplace, office, campus department, etc.) in order to make changes that appeal to a broader range of people:

Of course, each of us can do so much more than what is listed above. Find additional key resources centered on revising educational systems for an inclusive experience for all students, as recommended by NCWIT Extension Services: And, follow us on Twitter to catch up on dozens of tips that you can share with your followers.


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