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How a Computing Nonprofit Uses Surveys to Support STEM Education

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How a Computing Nonprofit Uses Surveys to Support STEM Education

DCACMScience. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. Add ‘education’ and ‘surveys’ and, boom, you’ll have hit some serious SurveyMonkey sweet spots in that list. We’re passionate about each of these things just like our guest bloggers today–Shahnaz Kamberi and Amar Zumkhawala.

Shahnaz and Amar are from the Washington, DC chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (DC ACM) and are here to talk about how surveys are helping them conduct research on supporting science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM).

Welcome, Shahnaz and Amar!

Here at DC ACM, we’re starting a new initiative to build community events for college students in the DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland areas. With SurveyMonkey’s support, our volunteers are able to take the first step in this new venture by conducting a survey to focus on the students and their needs.

Need for Greater Involvement

The need to encourage careers and education in the sciences has been recognized by many. According to STEMConnector, science and engineering jobs will grow at more than double the rate by 2018 in America. *In 2020, it’s projected that 123 million highly skilled jobs will exist with only 50 million qualified people. While a significant amount of students in high school are interested in STEM education in their freshman year, by senior year of high school, 57% of those students lose interest.

Women in Computing

Female students are even less likely to have interest in STEM studies, especially in Computer Science. In 2007, only 12% of students earning bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science were women. According to the United States Department of Labor, women make up 46.5% of the workforce but only 25% of the mathematical and computer science jobs. One component of the DC ACM’s initiative is to create specialized professional development opportunities for women.

According to Virginia’s Governor, Bob McDonnell, Virginia (especially Northern Virginia) has the highest concentration of technology workers, second only to California. These facts ignite the need to support Computer Science education in the local DC area and nationwide.

DC ACM’s Focus

Our main focus is to create a computer science club for local area college students to provide networking opportunities, professional development opportunities, computer science workshops, and to hold competitions, provide guest speakers, and other activities that promote and support increased interest in majoring in Computer Science and Technology.

Although there are ACM chapters among the universities in the area that support computer science activities, each chapter is independent to a specific university. At DC ACM we want to blend these groups together. We feel the merging of different ideas and outlooks coming from different backgrounds will help enhance our efforts to promote Computer Science to a larger demographic. And more specifically, to the female demographic.

Why Online Surveys

To provide the best DC ACM events for local college students, we chose to go with the world’s leading online survey provider, SurveyMonkey, because of their natural ease in offering online surveys and the ability to quickly analyze aggregated information. To increase the likelihood that a college student would put in the time to complete it, we decided to create a short survey with questions that pertain to our efforts and what we feel a Computer Science club should provide based on our own professional experiences.

SurveyMonkey helps our organization by allowing us to create questions easily and customize our surveys. Their advanced features let us acquire the right data we need and reach the right group of people. The handy Web Link Collector is a snap to use and the robust reporting options including charts and graphs, allows us to easily determine our results. Survey Monkey also ensures that our data is safe  and has provided our organization friendly customer support. All of this combined has made the survey making (and taking!) process painless.

To learn more about The Washington DC Association for Computing Machinery and STEM education, please visit their resource pages and let us know your comments below!

*Boyd, R. (2013). Proceedings from ModSim World 2013: The Simulation Century: Attack of the Algorithms. Hampton, VA.

Shahnaz Kamberi is the Faculty Chair and Associate Professor of Game and Simulation Programming at Devry University, her research focus is on increasing girls’ interest in Computer Science.

Amar Zumkhawala is a Computer Scientist and Entrepreneur residing in the DC area.

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