Colleen Lewis Receives 2016 Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award

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There are many ways to fight inequity and injustice, and computer science is one of them.

For Harvey Mudd College Assistant Professor of Computer Science Colleen Lewis, the strategy involves broadening participation in computer science, and this goal drives her teaching, research and service. For her efforts in this regard, Lewis has been awarded the Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award by the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on the advancement of women in computing.

The ABIE Award recognizes a junior faculty member for high-quality research and significant positive impact on diversity. Winners are nominated by their peers and chosen by a panel of fellow technologists and past ABIE Award winners based on their extraordinary achievements and commitment to excellence.

Lewis specializes in computer science education and curriculum development. She researches gender and diversity issues in computer science education and how programming environment shapes perception, learning and goals. Lewis studies attrition in introductory computer science courses; whether pair programming is more effective than other forms of collaboration for young students; and how students transfer non-programming knowledge when they learn computer programming. Her overarching goal is to understand and remove both structural and cultural barriers to people pursuing computer science.

To support more students having pre-college access to computer science, Lewis has created an online course on EdX to help teachers teach computer science using the programming language Scratch. Colleen views improving computer science teaching as central to the goal of broadening participation in computer science. Colleen has a National Science Foundation grant to document tips for teaching computer science which are posted online at CSTeachingTips and on Twitter at @CSTeachingTips.

She and HMC computer science professor Zachary Dodds recently received a $25,000 grant from Google’s CS4HS program for their work providing professional development to local pre-college computer science educators. Their work includes both face-to-face and online support for Pomona Unified School District teachers to offer the new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course.