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Challenges in the CS classroom: Perspectives from students with learning and attention disorders


Efforts to expand K-12 computer science (CS) education opportunities across the U.S. include the new AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course, designed to attract a wide range of learners and broaden participation in the study of CS. An important step in diversifying participation in CS broadly involves understanding the range of challenges students face in the CSP course, and finding ways to address those challenges to support learning for all. Such work is especially critical for increasing participation of students with learning and attention disorders, who are underrepresented in STEM fields. This webinar describes findings from an NSF-supported study exploring ways educators and curriculum developers can make CSP more accessible for these students who learn differently. The study, carried out by education researchers at Outlier Research & Evaluation at UChicago STEM Ed, University of Chicago and expert practitioners at the Wolcott School (a college-preparatory school for students who learn differently), documented the learning experiences and challenges of twelve students enrolled in the 2016 – 2017 CSP course, using’s CSP curriculum. During the presentation, researchers will share specific aspects of the course that students noted as especially challenging, and students’ identified reasons for those challenges. We will close by sharing some strategies educators can use to make CSP more accessible for this student population.