Ethnographic Studies in Computer Science Education

In Julie Libarkin’s class on assessing student learning in the college classroom, we are learning about ethnography and grounded theory in research.

I’m very curious now about ethnographic studies that have been done with respect to computer science education. I’m guessing that there isn’t a lot out there already, so I may broaden my search to include ethnographic research in mathematics and engineering.

Here is an interesting article about why ethnography should be considered as rigorous research in the “hard sciences.”

And here is a paper about the ethnography of computer humor in computational professionals.

Neither of these are really what I’m looking for, however. What I’m interested in is learning about how to best teach different types of people how to program. For example, we know from our work on Pine Ridge Reservation that using story-telling and animation development engages middle school students who have grown up in the Oglala Lakota tradition. But how can I measure this belief? How can I extend it? Would it apply to all (or most) Native American tribes? Would it apply to other different cultures?

I think that I’m interested in doing work like Betsy diSalvo’s (Georgia Tech). She looked into how African American men tend to develop a computing identity and ways that African American men can be motivated to learn to program.


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