computer science education

6 ways to improve higher-ed computer science

New report offers policy recommendations to sustain momentum for computer science education.

U.S. institutions should make every effort to expand computer science education to keep up with workforce demands, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

And though interest in computer science education, and access to it, is growing, the report found that not enough students are taking high-quality computer science classes at high school and university levels.

The report found that at the university level, the U.S. boasts strong computer science programs, but universities still aren’t keeping up with demand.

Why the Lag?

Authors Adams Nager, an ITIF economic policy analyst, and Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF president, cite two main causes for this: First, computer science, like most STEM-concentrated degrees, costs more for schools to provide than majors in the liberal arts or social sciences. Second, universities and colleges often face resistance from within when they try to change departments’ size and number of course offerings to reflect students’ demand for a particular major, especially if such efforts are not met with a growing student body for the university.

Universities, especially state schools that have faced funding cuts, have few incentives to take on these additional costs by encouraging or enabling more students to take courses, the authors note. Schools also lack incentives to improve diversity in their computer science departments, as the number and share of women in computer science majors has dramatically declined from a decade ago.

(Next page: Bad tactics, but promise for the future)

Laura Ascione

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