Marquette University is the lead recipient of a $1 million, 3-year collaboration to lead an ambitious roll out of a new 9th – and 10th– grade introductory computer science course in school districts across Wisconsin.
Marquette is partnering on the project with UW-La Crosse, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin-Dairyland chapter of the Computer Science Teacher Association. Currently fewer than one in five Wisconsin high schools offer courses in computer science; this grant is expected to double the number of computer science teachers, including at least 60 more teachers offering a new computer science introductory course.
“For years, innovation in information technology has driven economic growth, and this starts with building the best possible curriculum in our high schools,” said Dr. Dennis Brylow, associate professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science at Marquette and grant collaborator. “Job growth in this sector is projected to outpace students who graduate with computer science degrees by a wide margin, in part because far too few students see computing-related careers as a possibility. If we don’t act, we could face some 6,000 unfilled software-related jobs in the state by the end of the decade, among a million unfilled computing jobs nationally.”
Dr. Marta Magiera, assistant professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science at Marquette and a fellow grant collaborator, will develop a new course called “Teaching Computer Science” for existing high school teachers focused on effective methods for computer science teachers, in collaboration with UW-LaCrosse faculty.
The course will promote inquiry-based learning in high school computer science classrooms and provide a pathway for more teachers to become certified to teach advanced computing courses in the state. The research work involved will break new ground in understanding effective computer science teacher preparation, while providing a roadmap for many other states seeking to produce more computer scientists in the coming decade.
“We are all very excited,” Magiera said. “This is an unprecedented effort to better prepare our teachers, and broaden access to 21st century skills.”