[Edu-sig] transforming CS at Harvey Mudd

Mark Engelberg mark.engelberg at gmail.com
Thu Apr 5 07:28:25 CEST 2012

On Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 5:40 PM, David MacQuigg <macquigg at ece.arizona.edu>wrote:

> When I read the headline "Giving Women the Access Code", I was worried
> that it sounded like a watered-down course for women.  It's not that at
> all.  It's the guys that need to change their attitude.

I'm not sure that's what comes across in the article.  According to the

"To *reduce the intimidation factor*, the course was divided into two
sections — “gold,” for those with no prior experience, and “black” for
everyone else. Java, a notoriously opaque programming language, was
*replaced by a more accessible language* called Python. And the *focus of
the course changed* to computational approaches to solving problems
across science."

I think it's pretty easy to interpret this article as saying that the women
couldn't hack it until it was replaced with something light and fluffy with
fewer sharp edges.  Nowhere does it indicate that students are learning
just as much, or that this change in approach benefits all students, not
just the women.  Are we elevating the quality of our computer science
graduates, or just lowering the definition of what that means?  Without
addressing these questions, I fear this article does more harm than good.
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