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Communications of the ACM


Preparing Tomorrow's Faculty to Address Challenges in Teaching Computer Science

Preparing Tomorrows Faculty to Address Challenges in Teaching Computer Science, illustrative photo


As computing becomes more pervasive, we see increased demand from students eager to start a career in computing, and also from students in related disciplines recognizing the need for computer science skills. The result is increased overall enrollments—in some schools, by a factor of three in the past five years.a,b Higher enrollment leads to ballooning class sizes. Schools struggle to hire and retain faculty in the face of heavy courting by industry. The result is that a sense of resource scarcity dominates the high-pressure environment of large class sizes.

The new challenges compound existing teaching-related challenges for the field. We still need to broaden participation in our field, with the lowest percentage of women majors in all of STEM.c The economic rewards of a computing career make it even more important to bridge the digital divide. If there are more students than faculty can teach effectively, they may be inclined to lean on a pessimistic belief that success is dependent on "brilliance" and innate ability where only a subset of students can succeed. If CS faculty feel there is little they can do to change students' outcomes in their individual classrooms, it will be true. Research shows that more CS faculty hold this mistaken and unproductive view of students than faculty in other STEM disciplines.3


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