Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

African-American males in computer science—Examining the pipeline for clogs
by Stone, Daryl Bryant, D.Sc., The George Washington University, 2008, 350; 3341359
Abstract (Summary)

The literature on African-American males (AAM) begins with a statement to the effect that “Today young Black men are more likely to be killed or sent to prison than to graduate from college.”

Why are the numbers of African-American male college graduates decreasing? Why are those enrolled in college not majoring in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines? This research explored why African-American males are not filling the well-recognized industry need for Computer Scientist/Technologists by choosing college tracks to these careers.

The literature on STEM disciplines focuses largely on women in STEM, as opposed to minorities, and within minorities, there is a noticeable research gap in addressing the needs and opportunities available to African-American males.

The primary goal of this study was therefore to examine the computer science “pipeline” from the African-American male perspective. The method included a “Computer Science Degree Self-Efficacy Scale” be distributed to five groups of African-American male students, to include: (1) fourth graders, (2) eighth graders, (3) eleventh graders, (4) underclass undergraduate computer science majors, and (5) upperclass undergraduate computer science majors.

In addition to a 30-question self-efficacy test, subjects from each group were asked to participate in a group discussion about “African-American males in computer science.” The audio record of each group meeting provides qualitative data for the study.

The hypotheses include the following: (1) There is no significant difference in “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between fourth and eighth graders. (2) There is no significant difference in “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between eighth and eleventh graders. (3) There is no significant difference in “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between eleventh graders and lower-level computer science majors. (4) There is no significant difference in “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between lower-level computer science majors and upper-level computer science majors. (5) There is no significant difference in “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between each of the five groups of students.

Finally, the researcher selected African-American male students attending six primary schools, including the predominately African-American elementary, middle and high school that the researcher attended during his own academic career. Additionally, a racially mixed elementary, middle and high school was selected from the same county in Maryland. Bowie State University provided both the underclass and upperclass computer science majors surveyed in this study.

Of the five hypotheses, the sample provided enough evidence to support the claim that there are significant differences in the “Computer Science Degree” self-efficacy between each of the five groups of students. ANOVA analysis by question and total self-efficacy scores provided more results of statistical significance. Additionally, factor analysis and review of the qualitative data provide more insightful results.

Overall, the data suggest ‘a clog’ may exist in the middle school level and students attending racially mixed schools were more confident in their computer, math and science skills. African-American males admit to spending lots of time on social networking websites and emailing, but are ‘dis-aware’ of the skills and knowledge needed to study in the computing disciplines. The majority of the subjects knew little, if any, AAMs in the ‘computing discipline pipeline’. The collegian African-American males, in this study, agree that computer programming is a difficult area and serves as a ‘major clog in the pipeline’.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heller, Rachelle S.
Commitee: Leventhal, Laura, Lopez, Antonio, Martin, Dianne, Sibert, John
School: The George Washington University
Department: Computer Science
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Black studies, Science education, Computer science
Keywords: African-Americans, Computer science, Education, Males, STEM, Technology
Publication Number: 3341359
ISBN: 9780549965114
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