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Empowering All Students: Closing the CS Confidence Gap with an In-School Initiative for Middle School Students

Abstract

"The important goal of broadening participation in computing has inspired many successful outreach initiatives. Yet many of these initiatives, such as out-of-school activities or innovative new computer science courses for secondary school students, may disproportionately attract students who already have prior interest and experience in computing. How, then, do we engage the silent majority of students who do not self-select computer science? This paper examines this question in the context of ENGAGE, an in-school outreach initiative for middle school students. ENGAGE's learning activities center on a game-based learning environment for computer science. Results reveal that the initiative improved the computer science attitudes of students who were not already predisposed to study computer science, in a way that a corresponding after-school program could not. The results illustrate how an in-school initiative can empower young students who might not otherwise consider studying computer science."

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