Collaborative Research Broadening Participation of Latinx Students in Computer Science by Integrating Culturally Relevant Computational Music Practices

July 1st, 2020 - June 30th, 2024 | PROJECT

Computing and computational thinking are integral to the practice of modern science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); therefore, computational skills are essential for students' preparation to participate in computationally intensive STEM fields and the emerging workforce. In the U.S., Latinx and Spanish speaking students are underrepresented in computing and STEM fields, therefore, expanding opportunities for students to learn computing is an urgent need. The Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Puerto Rico will collaborate on research and development that will provide Latinx and Spanish speaking students in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, opportunities to learn computer science and its application in solving problems in STEM fields. The project will use a creative approach to teaching computer science by engaging Latinx and Spanish speaking students in learning how to code and reprogram in a music platform, EarSketch. The culturally relevant educational practices of the curriculum, as a model for informal STEM learning, will enable students to code and reprogram music, including sounds relevant to their own cultures, community narratives, and cultural storytelling. Research results will inform education programs seeking to design culturally authentic activities for diverse populations as a means to broaden participation in integrated STEM and Computing. This Broad Implementation project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments, including multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.

As part of the technical innovation of the project, the EarSketch platform will be redesigned for cultural and linguistic authenticity that will include incorporating traditional and contemporary Latin sound beats and musical samples into the software so that students can remix music and learn coding using sounds relevant to their cultures; and developing a Spanish version of the platform, with a toggle to easily switch between English and Spanish. Investigators will also develop an informal STEM curriculum using best practices from Culturally Relevant Education and Cultural Sustaining Pedagogy that provides authentic, culturally and linguistically rich opportunities for student engagement by establishing direct and constant connections to their cultures, communities and lived experiences. The curriculum design and implementation team will work collaboratively with members of Latinx diverse cultural groups to ensure semantic and content equivalency across diverse students and sites. Validating the intervention across students and sites is one of the goals of the project. The model curriculum for informal learning will be implemented as a semester long afterschool program in six schools per year in Atlanta and Puerto Rico, and as a one-week summer camp twice in the summer. The curricular materials will be broadly disseminated, and training will be provided to informal learning practitioners as part of the project. The research will explore differences in musical and computational engagement; the interconnection between music and the computational aspects of EarSketch; and the degree to which the program promotes cultural engagement among culturally and linguistically heterogenous groups of Latinx students in Atlanta, and more culturally and linguistically homogenous Latinx students in Puerto Rico. Investigators will use a mixed method design to collect data from surveys, interviews, focus groups, and computational/musical artifacts created by students. The study will employ multiple case study methodology to analyze and compare the implementation of the critical components of the program in Puerto Rico and Atlanta, and to explore differences in students' musical and computational thinking practices in the two regions. Results from the research will determine the impact of the curriculum on computer science skills and associated computational practices; and contribute to the understanding of the role of cultural engagement on educational outcomes such as sense of belonging, persistence, computational thinking, programming content knowledge and computer science identity. Results will inform education programs designing culturally authentic and engaging programming for diverse populations of Latinx youths.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2022 STEM for All Video Showcase Video: Broadening Participation of Latinx Students in Computing
2023 AISL Awardee Mini-Poster: 2005791

Team Members

Diley Hernandez, Principal Investigator, Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Jason Freeman, Co-Principal Investigator
Douglas Edwards, Co-Principal Investigator
Rafael Arce-Nazario, Principal Investigator, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
Joseph Carroll-Miranda, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 2005791
Funding Amount: $1,034,982

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 2005818
Funding Amount: $426,332


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities
Audience: Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Computing and information science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps