Learning practices and teaching methods as factors in gender inequity in undergraduate computer science programs
Dorian Stoilescu, University of Windsor , Canada
University of Windsor . Awarded
The primary purpose of this study is to detect student difficulties in adapting to the undergraduate computer science program. The research was conducted in the Department of Computer Science at a medium sized urban university in Ontario. Subjects were 16 students (ten males and six females) from the first to the third year of study and two professors. For this research mixed methods methodologies (QUAL+quan) were used. Qualitative methods were preponderant and were used in order to explore differences and difficulties both genders have in computer science program and modalities to deal with them. Quantitative methods were used to compare and analyze some of the details.
Most female students had initial experience in using computers but few of them had previous experience in programming. During the program they were focused more on academic achievements but they were not oriented to developing practical projects and preparing for the realities of work in the IT industry. In relation to teaching, female students were more sensitive to teaching than male students. During the program, anxiety, lack of confidence and underachievement of female students progressed.
The research revealed that the majority of males had initial experience in computer programming. During the program, they acquired more confidence and greater experience in programming and had more mature thoughts about the IT career than their female colleagues. Male students were oriented more on achieving "real" experience. Due to the fact that males were working in different informal settings, this helped them to extend and diversify their experience. Male students were more independent of teacher performances, being more willing to take ownership of learning process, especially in cases when teaching was not effective.
Male students easily formed social networks that were able to help them. Female students had better social and communicational skills. However, because they were small in number and lacked initiative and support, they failed to coagulate social networks able to support themselves. Related feminism approaches, the author appreciate that liberal feminism is most likely to succeed in preparing women for a traditionally male dominated workplace.
Stoilescu, D. Learning practices and teaching methods as factors in gender inequity in undergraduate computer science programs. Master's thesis, University of Windsor.
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