ASEE Zone 2 Conference 2017

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Final Paper
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This research presents strategy for broadening participation in computer science by empowering
middle school students to be technical designers through an afterschool outreach program. An
intergenerational partnership was formed between 12 graduate students and 12 middle school
students who worked together to improve the design of 6 educational technology prototypes
developed by graduate students during their Educational Technologies course. The researchers
conducted training sessions on basic user interface design principles and leveraged several best
practices within participatory design methods. Middle school students learned about user
interface design, participated in design activities, and generated ideas to improve the design
interfaces of the existing projects. Findings show that middle school students believe that
designing usable interfaces is a good technical skill to have. Additionally, the graduate students
favored the design recommendations given by the middle school students and viewed the middle
school students as effective collaborators. This research concluded that participatory design
methods offer a strategy to expose students to STEM and involve graduate students in mentoring
middle school students to design effective and engaging educational technologies. This paper
will give an overview of design training and activities the middle school students received. A
description of the projects and participatory design techniques will be included. A discussion of
the challenges and lessons learned will be presented and conclude with results and overall
perceptions of technology design methods.


Sanethia Thomas    
Human Centered Computing
University of Florida
United States

Jessica Jones    
University of Florida
United States

Christina Gardner-McCune    
University of Florida
United States

Juan Gilbert    
University of Florida
United States


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