Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

July, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Recruiting Young Women into & Retaining Them in Computing Majors


    If you are in the New Jersey area and interested in seeing more young women in computing majors this may be of interest to you. This seminar is designed for both educators and parents.

    NJIT and Stevens Institute of Technology

    are pleased to invite you to

    A Real World Connections

    Parents and Teachers Seminar

    Recruiting Young Women into, and Retaining Them in Computing
    Majors: A High School and College Level Initiative (ACM-W Project) Based
    Upon a 35-Year Psychological Study
           Dr. David Klappholz

    Stevens Institute of Technology

    DATE:                        Thursday, July 9, 2009

    REFRESHMENTS:    4:30 – 5:00 PM

    TIME:                          5:00 – 7:00 PM

    LOCATION:               GITC Building 4415

           Gender equity in computing has long been a national goal advanced by those concerned with fairness and by those who know that the  female point of view improves the design and development of software systems. Unfortunately, though, the percentage of young women entering computing-related majors keeps falling, and the female dropout rate is higher than the very high male dropout rate.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a large increase in the need for B.S. and M.S. computing graduates in the next decade. The largest untapped pool of potential computing majors and, eventually, computing professionals, is science- and math-talented high school students, but only about 10% of entering undergraduate majors in computing majors are female.

    Despite the many initiatives aimed at attracting young women, the number of female computing majors keeps dropping. In this talk we will discuss results of an extensive psychological research study that followed thousands of science- and math-talented students from middle school to middle age and that explains why many previous initiatives have failed. We will also discuss a new high school and university level initiative that is supported by these psychological studies, and that has recently been designated an ACM-W project. We will invite interested attendees to personally participate in, and encourage their high schools, universities, and/or employers to participate in this initiative.

           Dr. David Klappholz is an associate professor of computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology, where his specialty is software engineering. Dr. Klappholz spent a Fall 2002 sabbatical with Barry Boehm at USC and has worked with Prof. Boehm every summer since then. In addition to his interest in empirical software engineering research, Prof. Klappholz works, under NSF funding, with an educational psychologist on issues relating to engineering education pedagogy. He is also a member of a Stevens-based, DoD-supported, team that is crafting a reference standard M.S. curriculum in software engineering, a curriculum with a heavy systems engineering slant. In a previous incarnation Prof. Klappholz did research, supported by NSF, IBM Research, DoE, and others, on parallel machine architecture, automatic code parallelization, compiler optimizations, and, in his professional infancy, on natural language understanding and translation.

    Directions to NJIT

    GITC Building is number 13 at the following map

    Parking information at NJIT can be found at

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Would You Wear A Ribbon That Labeled You a Trouble Maker?


    I remember when I was teaching elementary school as a technology specialist. Stickers were king. Little kids will do almost anything for a sticker. I thought that once students moved to high school that was all over but it turns out that some high school kids will do a lot for a sticker as well. I think it is the recognition as much if not more than the sticker itself though. Students like to have something visible to show that they have accomplished something or that they are a part of some thing. Look at the t-shirts and other clothing that students like to wear. How much of it has words on it that identify them as part of something. Most of that is either athletic or social related though. It is so seldom that it is academic related.

    Why don’t students wear more to indicate academic accomplishment? Did you ever wonder why we don’t have “honor student” jackets like we have “letterman jackets?” Because it is not cool? Doesn’t it worry you a little that being smart is not cool enough to show off but being able to hit a baseball is? People wear things to represent things they are proud of. Why aren’t students proud enough of their grades to show it off on their clothing?

    This week at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC this year but it will be called ISTE next year) a lot of attendees wore ribbons on their badges. These ribbons denoted the usual conference indicators, speaker/presenter, board member, SIG member, etc. But there were also other ribbons that are less traditional. I picked up one that said edublogger for example. And there were several versions of Twitter ribbons. But one of the most coveted ribbons said “trouble maker.” People really wanted to wear those. I did get one by the way and it was the only ribbon(of the five I wore) that anyone asked “where did you get that?”

    I think that is interesting as well. The teachers who asked about a “trouble maker” ribbon are often seen as trouble makers in their local schools. They disrupt the status quo and a lot of schools, and administrators, and other teachers resent change. many of the teachers at NECC, especially it seems the ones who hang out at the blogger cafe but many more besides, are not happy with the status quo. They want to change things – to be disruptive influences – and make things better. These people are the exciting people to talk to. These are people who are in it for their students; who want to change the world through education. These are the people who put themselves and their careers at risk (some more than others of course). But boy are they sure exciting to talk to and learn from. At their own schools trouble maker may be a derogatory term but at NECC which  is about change and using technology in new and different ways being a trouble maker is a badge of honor and many wear it proudly.

    Late note: I guess I wasn't the only one to write about this. See Trouble Maker Tag by someone else at NECC.

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