Helping Underrepresented Students Succeed in AP CSA and Beyond

Authors: Barbara Ericson, Tom Mcklin


Rise Up 4 CS was created at Georgia Tech in the spring of 2013 to help African American students succeed in their Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science A (CSA) high school course and on the exam. The AP CSA course is intended to be equivalent to a college level CS1 course. In the fall of 2014, Sisters Rise Up 4 CS was also created to help female students succeed. Rise Up (RU) and Sisters Rise Up (SRU) both offer remote and in-person help sessions led by undergraduate students, who serve as near-peer role models. The long-term goal of these projects is to attract more underrepresented students to computing careers by increasing their self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief that one can succeed in a particular task or field. Thanks to generous support from Google, RU and SRU have been offered at several other colleges and universities as well. This paper summarizes the results from spring 2013 to summer 2016, reports on an alumni survey answered by 68 (32%) of the 211 alumni, and includes excerpts from five semi-structured interviews. The majority (63%) of the alumni survey respondents, who are in college, are majoring in computing. A similar percentage of the alumni who are still in high school intend to major in computing (62%). When asked about the programs’ impact on their career choices and interest in computing, 61% of respondents indicated that the program increased their interest in computer science and 24% indicated that it changed their career plans to computing.

Mcklin, Tom. (2018). Helping Underrepresented Students Succeed in AP CSA and Beyond. 356-361. 10.1145/3159450.3159517.

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