Development, implementation, and outcomes of an equitable computer science after-school program: Findings from middle-school students

Chrystalla Mouza, Alison Marzocchi, Yi Cheng Pan, Lori Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current policy efforts that seek to improve learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) emphasize the importance of helping all students acquire concepts and tools from computer science that help them analyze and develop solutions to everyday problems. These goals have been generally described in the literature under the term computational thinking. In this article, we report on the design, implementation, and outcomes of an afterschool program on computational thinking. The program was founded through a partnership between university faculty, undergraduates, teachers, and students. Specifically, we examine how equitable pedagogical practices can be applied in the design of computing programs and the ways in which participation in such programs influence middle school students' learning of computer science concepts, computational practices, and attitudes toward computing. Participants included 52 middle school students who voluntarily attended the 9-week afterschool program, as well as four undergraduates and one teacher who designed and implemented the program. Data were collected from after-school program observations, undergraduate reflections, computer science content assessments, programming products, and attitude surveys. The results indicate that the program positively influenced student learning of computer science concepts and attitudes toward computing. Findings have implications for the design of effective learning experiences that broaden participation in computing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-104
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research on Technology in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational thinking
  • Middle school
  • Mixed methods
  • Programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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