Surfacing Equity Issues in Large Computing Courses with Peer-Ranked, Demographically-Labeled Student Feedback

Contextualized student feedback enabled teaching teams to perspective take and consider minoritized perspectives.

Abstract

As computing courses become larger, students of minoritized groups continue to disproportionately face challenges that hinder their academic and professional success (e.g. implicit bias, microaggressions, lack of resources, assumptions of preparatory privilege). This can impact career aspirations and sense of belonging in computing communities. Instructors have the power to make immediate changes to support more equitable learning, but they are often unaware of students’ challenges. To help both instructors and students understand the inequities in their classes, we developed StudentAmp, an interactive system that uses student feedback and self-reported demographic information (e.g. gender, ethnicity, disability, educational background) to show challenges and how they affect students differently. To help instructors make sense of feedback, StudentAmp ranks challenges by student-perceived disruptiveness. We conducted formative evaluations with five large college computing courses (150 - 750 students) being taught remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that students shared challenges beyond the scope of the course, perceived sharing information about who they were as useful but potentially dangerous, and that teaching teams were able to use this information to consider the positionality of students sharing challenges. Our findings relate to a central design tension of supporting equity by sharing contextualized information about students while also ensuring their privacy and well-being.

Publication
Proceddings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction