Student Story

Tabitha Miles '22 Awarded SURPASs Grant to Research Gender Gap in Computer Science Education

Computer science student Tabitha Miles ‘22 has been accepted into the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURPASs) — a paid, mentored summer research experience for undergraduates from the end of May through the end of June.

“I’m thrilled to have access to such an amazing opportunity,” says Miles, a recent transfer student to Simmons. For the last semester, she has worked closely with Professor Nanette Veilleux and visiting scholar Sherry Seibel on their research project regarding gender disparities in coding bootcamps versus traditional computer science degrees.

“Statistics from recent years show the number of women entering the tech industry through coding bootcamps currently exceeds the number of women from traditional college computer science programs,” says Miles. “During the SURPASs experience, I will focus on discussing the pedagogies from both bootcamps and traditional computer science (CS) programs and inferring what can or should be applied to all CS education to make learning CS more appealing for women. I will be analyzing the qualitative data from our interviews and will create a survey used to gather quantitative data in the near future.”

Statistics from recent years show the number of women entering the tech industry through coding bootcamps currently exceeds the number of women from traditional college computer science programs.

Miles has always been passionate about using computer science and technology to improve education methods and policies. “My goal is to use technology to allow educators to find new teaching methods that work better for a wide range of students,” she says. “I am interested in increasing the use of technology in classrooms to be able to provide multiple effective methods of teaching. Research projects, such as the one I joined, are important in the process of finding new ways to make the world better.” 

Thanks to SURPASs, Miles will join a community of research scholars and participate in research discussions. The end goals of the experience are to publish the research and present the findings — Miles will present a poster at the Undergraduate Symposium in April 2022.

“I hope to learn about conducting, interpreting, and presenting research,” says Miles. She also encourages students to reach out to faculty pursuing research of interest. “I came across this research project because my advisor forwarded me an email from Professor Nanette Veilleux — she remembered that I had expressed interest in CS and education. It might seem scary reaching out to people, but it’s worth a shot!”

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