Pair Programming Strategies for Middle School Girls

L.L. Werner, J. Denner, and S. Bean (USA)


pair programming, middle school.


A large gender gap exists with who designs and produces new computer technology; men overwhelmingly dominate the field. Studies have shown that women are more likely to pursue and persist in computer science when they have the confidence to problem-solve and explore without fear of breaking the computer, see social aspects of computing, and see a value to computing consistent with their self identity. Pair programming, developed for use in software design as part of the extreme programming methodology, puts two people working together at all phases of software development. Pair programming is also a collaborative, instructional approach, shown to increase learning, investment, and interest in computer science among both male and female university students, in particular females. We are studying pair programming with middle school girls for the purpose of devising a controlled study of the benefits. This paper will describe how we have implemented pair programming in the middle school environment and what we have learned so far about how this approach may benefit girls. We describe our current strategies so that others may use this collaborative approach both for experimentation and for practical application.

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