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Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM

Leveraging Learning Communities and POGIL Activities to Teach CS Principles to Diverse Students

The Westminster TIDES project is developing a full set of culturally sensitive POGIL activities for a CS course accessible to all Westminster students, regardless of major. Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) is a student-centered pedagogy that focuses on the simultaneous development of knowledge and process skills (such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership). Students develop these skills by working in the framework of learning teams on specifically designed inquiry-based activities that guide them through the construction of course content.

James Madison University, Saint Xavier University, and Western New England University will be adopting some of the new POGIL activities for their own CS courses for non-majors. The activities have been designed so that instructors may inject any number of these activities into their own courses, lowering barriers to adoption.

The Westminster course (CMPT 140: Computer Science Principles) will be paired with other courses as Learning Communities. All Westminster first-year students are required to complete a Learning Community, which is team-taught by two faculty from different disciplines. Westminster’s Learning Communities have been demonstrated to help students adjust to college, which in turn improves student retention. This project will develop three new Learning Communities:

  1. a CS and Biology Learning Community targeting non-science majors. View the flyer.
  2. a CS and Chemistry Learning Community for science majors
  3. a CS and Sociology Learning Community for all students

 

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