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In a paper included in the proceedings for the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2020, researchers investigated whether social cues in the form of course “welcome videos” could influence women to invest more effort in a computer science course. The primary question for this study basically asked, "Would a welcome video featuring a female instructor help female students feel more comfortable about computer science, thus encouraging them to be more persistent in the course?" The answer, interestingly enough, was a resounding no. With a robust n (53,922), these researchers found that “presenting a male and female instructor together [in the welcome video] was an effective strategy for retaining women in the course” (Kizilcec et al., 2020).

Key Takeaway

Social cues are important, and based on the current evidence, the researchers recommend having both a male and female instructor welcome students to a course. This begs the question -- what if there’s only one instructor?

Read More (paywall)

Kizilcec, R.F., Saltarelli, A., Bonfert-Taylor, P., Goudzwaard, M., Hamonic, E., & Sharrock, R. (2020). Welcome to the course: Early social cues influence women’s persistence in computer science. CHI '20: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. April 2020, 1–13.

A Tip for Researchers!

Frustrated by the paywall? We get it. Potential solutions: Ask your local public librarian for access to these journals, or request the articles through your local library’s InterLibrary Loan service, “which is essential for the democratization of research” (see: InterLibrary Loan will change your life).

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This article review and summary was included in Learning Science Weekly, a weekly newsletter published by the researchers in Intellum's Learning Science department. If you'd like more recommendations on how you can apply findings from the learning sciences into your practice, subscribe today!

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