Changing Perceptions of Who Can Code: A Professional Development Program for Career and Technical Education Teachers


This paper reports the results of evaluating a broadening participation in computing initiative aimed at Career and Technical Education (CTE) secondary teachers and students. The five-year project provided professional development (PD) for CTE teachers across the state of XX , many of whom were not computer science or engineering teachers, and in fact, were in fields such as hospitality and photography. The PD introduced both computational thinking and programming basics through project-based learning and the use of App Inventor visual programming platform. PD activities stressed teaching practices that engage and challenge students, in particular girls, underrepresented minorities in urban areas, and students in underserved rural regions in the State. The PD also focused on pedagogies that value the importance of broadening participation in computing. Data collection of the PD evaluation study included student pre-post surveys, classroom and PD observations, pre-post teacher interviews, and follow-up-post teacher interviews. While there were modest gains in student confidence in computing, with girls in one cohort increasing confidence significantly more than boys, the greatest achievements of the project lay in the impact on teachers. The teachers learned new computing skills, gained confidence in computing, learned new pedagogical practices that they implemented in the classroom, and most continue to integrate project-based app development in their courses. Significantly, two teachers shifted their careers to focus on equity issues in computing and increasing participation of girls and other underrepresented groups in K-12 education. Lessons learned by the project team include using formative data to improve PD development, creating relationships and building trust with CTE program directors, and being responsive to teacher needs. The teacher interview data suggest that influencing a few individuals greatly can have a larger ripple effect. The data also suggest that including non-computing teachers in computing education PD can change hearts and minds about who can learn, teach, and code.

Publication Date


Journal Title

2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity



Document Type

Conference Proceeding