NSF OpenPath Project

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OpenPath - Improving Student Pathways to Computing Professions via Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software is a collaborate research project funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program.

People Institution Other Info
Greg Hislop Drexel University NSF Award
Heidi Ellis, Stoney Jackson Western New England University NSF Award
Lori Postner, Darci Burdge Nassau Community College NSF Award
Clif Kussmaul Muhlenberg College

Proposal Abstract

The OpenPath project will improve undergraduate computing education by developing a learning pathway through the computing curriculum that will help address key challenges of computing education via student exposure to and participation in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) projects. HFOSS is open source software that improves the human condition, addressing needs in areas such as health care, disaster management, education, economic development, and accessibility. Students will be provided with opportunities to positively impact their communities or others, which will engage and motivate traditionally underrepresented minorities and women to pursue careers in computing. As a result, the OpenPath project will improve student learning and content retention, and will help students to develop professional skills and personal attributes.

OpenPath will integrate two existing research initiatives: participation in HFOSS, and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning in Computer Science (CS-POGIL). In CS-POGIL, students work in small self-managed teams using specifically designed materials to construct their own knowledge. In this project CS-POGIL will be used to scaffold early learning and help students develop team and process skills. This early learning will support a transition to more independent learning in HFOSS environments. Working in an HFOSS project provides students with the skills and professional experience needed to ensure a smooth pathway to the computing professions. Multiple types of evaluations will enable the research team to track the progress of the project, to determine the legitimacy of the model created and its mapping to the curriculum, to understand the impact of the faculty and student activities, and to identify the student learning that occurs through participation in an HFOSS project.

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