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Does AP CS Principles Broaden Participation in Computing?: An Analysis of APCSA and APCSP Participants


A major attempt to broaden participation in computer science has centered on the design and development of a new high school Advanced Placement (AP) course, AP Computer Science Principles (CSP). This course was created to intentionally engage a wider and more diverse group of students in learning about computing than those who had historically enrolled in programming-focused AP Computer Science "A" (CSA). After several years in the pilot phase, the course was officially offered by the College Board in 2016-17. This paper uses nationwide Freshman Survey data to examine the demographics and characteristics of students who took either CSA, the new CSP course, or both courses by the time they entered college in Fall 2017. Using crosstabs, z-tests, and one-way ANOVA, this study uncovered the similarities and differences between students who had participated in one or both of these courses. Our findings suggest that while students who took only CSP were more diverse than those who took only CSA, they exhibited less computing confidence and less interest in computing majors and tech careers. This study suggests that while CSP may be recruiting more females and racially diverse students into the course, this course alone may not serve as a direct pipeline into computing majors and careers.


Computer Science, Computing, Education & Classroom Learning, Identity, Publications, Research