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Community college men and women: A test of three widely held beliefs about who pursues computer science (Denner et al. 2014)

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Denner, J., Werner, L., O’Connor, L., & Glassman, J. (2014). Community college men and women: A test of three widely held beliefs about who pursues computer science. Community College Review, 42(4), 342-362.


  • The study's objective was to examine factors that affect motivation to pursue a computer and information sciences (CIS) degree, with the intention of informing strategies to increase the number of community college students, particularly females, who go on to enroll in a CIS degree program at a four-year university. Specific factors examined were programming and/or video-gaming experience; support from peers, instructors, mentors, and family members; and level and type of motivation to pursue a CIS degree.
  • The authors administered a series of three (baseline and 6- and 18-month follow-up) surveys to students enrolled in an introductory programming class at one of 15 California community colleges and ran multiple linear regression models by gender to determine each of the three factors’ influence on the student’s plan to pursue a four-year CIS degree, comparing results for women versus men.
  • The study found that female students, who were overall less likely to intend to pursue a four-year CIS degree, reported receiving significantly less encouragement from their peers to persist in computer science and spending less time playing computer games than male students. Predictors for women choosing to pursue a four-year CIS degree changed over time: strong immediate (baseline) predictors were interest in computer science, video gaming, and peer encouragement; a year after baseline, the strongest predictors were expectations for success and interest in solving problems.

Reviewed by CLEAR

September 2015