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Examining the What, Why, and How of Multilingual Student Identity Development in Computer Science


Developing student interest is critical to supporting student learning in computer science. Research indicates that student interest is a key predictor of persistence and achievement. While there is a growing body of work on developing computing identities for diverse students, little research focuses on early exposure to develop multilingual students’ interest in computing. These students represent one of the fastest growing populations in the US, yet they are dramatically underrepresented in computer science education. This study examines identity development of upper elementary multilingual students as they engage in a year-long computational thinking curriculum, and follows their engagement across multiple settings (i.e., school, club, home, community). Findings from pre- and -post surveys of identity showed significant differences favoring students’ experiences with computer science, their perceptions of computer science, their perceptions of themselves as computer scientists, and their family support for computer science. Findings from follow-up interviews and prior research suggest that tailored instruction provides opportunities for connections to out-of-school learning environments with friends and family that may shift students’ perceptions of their abilities to pursue computer science and persist when encountering challenges.

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