At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, students in computer science and software engineering expressed interest in learning more technologies in context and application, beginning very early in their major. In 2010 we revised our first-year course selections, so that now students can choose from introductory computing courses such as Game Design, Mobile App Development, Robotics, Music Composition, and Computational Art. These new courses reflect the evolution of computing instruction by giving students choices in their introductory class, teaching "algorithmic thinking," using context to draw students in and keep their interest, and implementing project-based learning in a group environment. Our evaluators are looking at recruitment, retention, and learning outcomes but initial results show that this approach has been especially popular and effective with female students.
Cal Poly also has emphasized opportunities for women in computing to develop visibility for themselves and the field. Our Computer Science Department promotes the women in computing student club, runs a speaker series, and established a mentoring mechanism for female students. The department supports female students attending the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, and will be hosting an NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing affiliate for high school girls. Women in computing majors are visiting their former high schools, using NCWIT road show materials to ignite the passion of prospective students.
Hear Ignatios share the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Pacesetters story: http://sitwithme.org/your-story/?story=1294.