This project is developing an understanding of how minority communities can more fully participate in the design and use of process, practices, and tools for preparing and analyzing data, to open up pathways to data literacy and civic engagement. The research team members are experts in computing, design, and education. The project employs members of minority communities to conduct data work for a broad portfolio of clients that have need for contextualized data work. The project provides an educational but real-world setting to learn, investigate and evaluate data process, practices, and tools. These efforts can help local and national government organization develop robust and democratic approaches to data that serve the diversity of their citizens. They also provide an ideal means to leverage such work to develop new pathways for minority community members to become literate with data.

The approaches and methods in this project include participatory design to study and develop data systems that extend the reach of computing to new communities and to move from a goal of computational thinking to a more powerful notion of computational empowerment. The project also uses ethnographic methods in minority communities to identify needs for computational data tools that further these communities’ digital and civic literacy. Outcomes will include a searchable catalog of data work tools and a framework for the design of new tools. Through the design and deployment of different data learning pathways, theories of communities of practice will be improved, to identify how situated learning can be purposefully structured to move young people who are underrepresented in computing  from entry level peripheral participation with computing to a fuller participation in both data science and civic domains.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Betsy DiSalvo
Dr. Betsy DiSalvo is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Computing. DiSalvo’s work is focused on computer science (CS) education and informal learning. She is PI for several NSF-funded CS education projects, including exploring maker-oriented learning approaches to increase transfer and reflection in CS courses and the DataWorks project, an authentic working environment for minority young adults that provides CS education through entry-level jobs. DiSalvo collaborates with game developers and others to develop educational games such as the Beats Empire game, which assesses CS learning outcomes and the Hemonauts game, which helps chronically ill children learn science concepts related to their bodies. In the past decade, DiSalvo has led research efforts to understand the use of information technology by minority parents in their children’s education, working with African American and Latin American parents in Atlanta. DiSalvo's work has included the development of the Glitch Game Testers program, a CS education effort with African American males, and projects for the Carnegie Science Museum, the Children's Museum of Atlanta, Eyedrum Art Center, and the Walker Art Center.
Performance Period: 10/01/2020 - 09/30/2024
Institution: Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Award Number: 1951818