Capital Community College Awarded National Science Foundation Grant to Broaden Participation and Build Pathways in Computer Science

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Capital Community College, in partnership with The College of St. Scholastica, Elms College and Southwest Minnesota State University, has been awarded a $1M National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for a collaborative research project aimed at building K-14 pathways in computer science and broadening participation in computing for female and underrepresented minority students.

The project, entitled “Collaborative Research: Broadening Participation and Building Pathways in Computer Science through Concurrent Enrollment“, is one of a select number of awardees of the NSF Computer Science for All: Researcher Practitioner Partnership program. The goal of this program is to provide all students across the United States the opportunity to participate in computer science education at the Pre K-12 level as well as to build computer science education pathways across K-14.

The collaborative research project will study the utility and effectiveness of concurrent enrollment programs as a vehicle to increase the number and diversity of students taking computer science courses in high school. Concurrent enrollment programs are dual-enrollment programs where colleges and universities articulate coursework with local high schools, approve high school teachers to teach college coursework, and award college credit to participating high school students.

The collaborative research project builds upon the NSF-funded Mobile CSP Project, an equity-focused Advanced Placement (AP) introductory computer science curriculum. The Mobile CSP Project started at Trinity College in Hartford, and is currently led by computer science faculty at The College of St. Scholastica and Elms College. The project includes professional development and year-round support for participating high school teachers. Through this research project, the Researcher Practitioner Partnership (RPP) team will adapt the Mobile CSP curriculum from its current use as an AP course to a concurrent enrollment course.

As part of the RPP team, Capital Community College (CCC) and Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) will use their existing respective concurrent enrollment programs to articulate the Mobile CSP course with partnering school districts and schools. Participating high school teachers in CT and MN will be provided professional development and support through the grant to facilitate their teaching of the Mobile CSP course.

This RPP project will contribute to research on computer science dual enrollment implementation and outcomes. The participating post-secondary institutions provide two very different cases for this study. CCC is an urban, east coast community college utilizing the career-technical education model for dual-enrollment. SMSU is a rural Midwest four-year public university, utilizing a non-CTE model. Studying both cases will contribute to understanding computer science dual enrollment implementation and outcomes in different contexts.

Capital’s existing concurrent enrollment program – College Career Pathways (CCP) – is a statewide concurrent enrollment program common to all Connecticut community colleges. Capital’s CCP program currently has articulations in place with 13 high schools throughout the Greater Hartford area, where students take Capital coursework and are awarded college credit in a range of subjects such as Accounting, Biotechnology, Communications, Computer Science, Construction Management, Emergency Medical Technician, Finance, Marketing, Mathematics and Medical Assisting.

At Capital, the project is being led by Seth Freeman, Professor of Computer Information Systems and Interim Department Chair of Business and Technology and Karen Binkhorst, College Career Pathways Coordinator. Professor Freeman has undertaken prior projects on advancing K-12 computer science education through his work with CT Computer Science Teachers Association (CTCSTA) and Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance. Professor Freeman has extensive experience supporting Capital’s CCP program and also directs Capital’s Summer Computer Science Program for middle-school students.

“We are extremely excited to collaborate with the Mobile CSP team, SMSU and partnering school districts on this research,” said Prof. Freeman. “Our CCP program has always been a key vehicle for building meaningful relationships with high schools and providing valuable career-oriented coursework and skills to high school students.  Through using our CCP program as a conduit for broadening participation, we have the unique opportunity to realize many different goals simultaneously – building and broadening our partnerships with high schools, building the capacity of high schools to teach computer science, increasing the number of females and underrepresented minorities taking CS courses, and sharing knowledge gained with CS education researchers and practitioners nationwide.”

The start date for this project is October 1, 2018. To find out more about the NSF grant program please contact Prof. Seth Freeman at sfreeman@capitalcc.edu or (860) 906-5249.

– CCC –

Capital Community College, located in the center of Hartford in the renovated, historic G. Fox building, is a public, open-door, educational institution committed to the metropolitan community it serves. Its mission is to provide higher education and lifelong learning to people of diverse cultures, abilities and ages, and to serve the needs of the community, government agencies and business and industry. To learn more about  the college, visit www.capitalcc.edu