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What Predicts Middle School Girls' Interest in Computing?

Jill Denner

Abstract


Despite strong claims that middle school is a critical period for getting girls interested in computing, there is little research to guide the development of interventions. Many programs that target girls build on Eccles’ expectancy-value model, which focuses on expectations for success, values, and support from others. However, there is little research to justify the use of this model to guide efforts to increase interest in computing during middle school. To test the model, we analyzed data from 140 Latina and white girls in a California middle school collected on the first day of an IT-intensive after school program. The strongest direct predictor of girls’ interest in computing classes and careers was the extent to which they see value in computing, in particular their technological curiosity. Perceived support from school peers and teachers also had a direct effect, while perceived support from parents had an indirect effect via values. Expectations for success did not explain interest in computing. Implications for interventions are discussed.


Keywords


girls; computing; careers

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