Baskin Engineering hosts workshops in equitable and effective computer science education

Students play a game about equitable CS teaching practices at a workshop led by Colleen Lewis
Students play a game about equitable CS teaching practices at a workshop led by Colleen Lewis
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
James McGirk

Harvey Mudd College’s Colleen Lewis worked with computer science and engineering faculty and graduate student teaching assistants to promote equitable teaching practices.

On Monday, October 7th, teaching assistants (TAs) in the Baskin School of Engineering formed small groups and began playing a high-stakes card game funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The cards yielded challenging scenarios they might face in class, and the TAs were forced to make decisions about how they would respond.

The cards are the brainchild of Professor Colleen Lewis, Gregor-Girand Associate Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College. 

The TAs weren’t the only ones to play the game. Faculty members from the Computer Science and Engineering Department also participated in a separate session. 

CS Teaching Tips Game“Colleen Lewis is very well known in the CS education research field and she has received many NSF grants for her work on broadening participation in computing,” Teaching Professor Narges Norouzi said. “We asked her to visit us and run two of her workshops for graduate students and faculty. Her talks and workshops were very well received.”

Norouzi first met Lewis at the National Center for Women in Information Technology’s annual conference. She was intrigued by Lewis’ remarkable work improving computer science education, and invited her to spend a day in Santa Cruz running workshops.

Lewis investigates students’ access or lack of access to computer science by exploring their attitudes, their use of out-of-domain knowledge, classroom practices, and social interaction. She created CSteachingtips.org, which is a storehouse of proven advice and strategies for making students comfortable, and keeping them connected to computer science.

The workshops consisted of a role-playing game modeled after Cards Against Humanity in which players pull cards and describe how they’d react in the scenarios described. The answers were helpful in provoking fruitful discussions and providing advice to all players. 

The workshops led by Lewis were:

TA training workshop: Teaching practices game

In this research-based game, participants practiced recognizing opportunities for inclusive teaching. The game invites players to respond to challenging scenarios related to common TA scenarios and subtle bias. Each scenario appears on a card, and players discuss how they would respond. Everyone received a copy of the game to continue learning and sharing with others.

Bias workshop: Recognizing and responding to bias and microaggressions

Have you ever frozen, not knowing what to say, when you heard a comment or question about diversity? Participants in this workshop played a research-based game to practice recognizing and responding to bias. The game invites players to respond to challenging scenarios related to subtle bias and is similar to the teaching practices game in its play. Each person received a copy of the game to share with others. 

Colleen Lewis and Narges NorouziAfter the workshops, Lewis met with members of Baskin Engineering’s leadership team, and with the school’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

“I’m really excited to encourage, and hope to devote resources to, the kind of ideas she’s talking about,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs Tracy Larrabee.

If you’re interested in learning more about Professor Colleen Lewis’ work, please see http://csteachingtips.org or http://blogs.hmc.edu/lewis/