DPI Receives $1 Million for Computer Education Research

DPI Receives $1 Million for Computer Education Research

Illini’s daily photo file

The headquarters of the Computer Science Department is located on Goodwin Avenue. The DPI donated money for more computer science education in Illinois.

On February 2, the Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative, part of the Discovery Partners Institute, received a $1 million grant for computer science education research in Illinois.

This donation will help fund a four-year research study between DPI and the University’s College of Education.

Raya Hegeman-Davis, Co-Principal Investigator of this grant and DPI Fellow, described how important it becomes to have knowledge in some form of computer science education.

“The pandemic has really illuminated for a lot of people something that was hard to see before the pandemic,” Hegeman-Davis said. “When everything became dependent on computers and technology, it became concrete why it is so important to have this knowledge of computers.”

Meg Bates, Director of IWERC, described how increasing diversity in tech careers is a huge goal, especially given the current pandemic and the number of people turning to technology-related jobs. technology.

This donation will help researchers study two different levels of education, including state high schools and post-secondary. Bates says the Chicago Public Schools District has done a “wonderful job” of integrating computer science into its curriculum, and one aspect is comparing it to other schools in different districts.

Hegeman-Davis said Illinois doesn’t have a lot of data regarding the demographics of computer science students. One of the objectives of the research is to collect data such as the type of courses offered, the demographic characteristics of the people taking and teaching the courses, and the teaching locations. There will also be a survey of schools and districts on how they plan to teach computer science in the future.

“From this work, we hope to identify real, exemplary districts and schools that are interesting case studies of what’s possible in computer science education,” Bates said. “It’s at the K-12 level. At the college level, we want to work with the computer science department and understand the enrollment patterns of different student populations. We want to focus on female students, black students, Latinx students – all historically underrepresented.

The IWERC researchers also want to see how prepared school districts are for the new requirements that are part of the recently passed Bill 2170: Education and Workforce Equity Act. K-12. This law requires students from kindergarten to grade 12 to have computer literacy. Classes will need to start implementing this at the elementary level, and all students should have the option of taking a computer science course in high school.

One of the researchers’ main focus is on the kinds of resources and supports K-12 schools need to meet the HB2170 requirements.

In the past, it was up to individual schools in Illinois to provide computer science opportunities, but with HB2170, the rollout of computer science programs has been slow, according to Hegeman-Davis. Through this research, IWERC hopes to identify key areas that can enable schools to better support their students if they wish to pursue studies in computer science.

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