This article is published in the April 2023 issue.

Computing Research Association to Lead $1M Community Project to Chart a Pathway Toward Inclusive Computing

LEVEL UPLEVEL UP, which is an NSF Computing in Undergraduate Education (CUE) Mobilizing project, is a collaboration between CRA, ACM,  IEEE-CS, several BPC Alliances (AccessComputing, CAHSI, CRA-WP, ECEP, IAAMCS, LEAP, NCWIT, and STARS), and the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University. We invite others interested in ensuring universities and colleges across the nation offer inclusive computing undergraduate education programs to engage as well. Sign up to be involved from the LEVEL UP website.  

The goal of LEVEL UP is to build consensus around a united vision of inclusive undergraduate computing education. Through collaboration with a respected advisory board of computing educators and professionals from across the country, the LEVEL UP project will develop an evidence-based report of best practices that we will encourage computing departments to implement nationwide. CRA will work with our diverse computing community members to chart a pathway that undergraduate computing programs can implement to offer inclusive computing courses and opportunities where all students feel welcome and thrive. 

CRA will lead the shared effort that involves the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE Computer Society, several National Science Foundation (NSF) Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Alliances (including AccessComputing, Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, CRA-Widening Participation, Expanding Computing Education Pathways, Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences, LEAP Alliance, National Center for Women and Information Technology, and STARS Computing Corps), as well as the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University.

Computing education continues to face challenges around inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessible learning. While several departments and colleges are achieving major successes in these areas, many others are lagging. Change is possible with a coordinated effort among computing department leaders and faculty. CRA encourages all universities and colleges to “LEVEL UP” and implement best practices that broaden participation in computing. The program will build consensus on which BPC evidence-based best practices are vital and should be implemented on a large scale.

The LEVEL UP program will form working groups to address six of computing’s biggest challenges:

  • Managing booming enrollments without damaging diversity efforts
  • Best Practices for Broadening Participation in Computing
  • Different Pathways into Computing
  • Making departments and programs more accessible for students with disabilities 
  • Preparing Students for Industry 
  • Approaches to Increase Domestic PhD Enrollments

Each group will develop a consensus on a list of actions that departments should take to address the challenge. Departments that then implement the consensus vision locally will “LEVEL UP.” 

To reach our LEVEL UP goals, CRA will hold a series of regional workshops where faculty across the country will meet and build consensus around inclusive computing education. 

Once there is a shared national vision around computing education, departments and programs across the United States can positively impact a significant number of students interested in computing and “move the needle” on some of the most pressing challenges in the discipline.