Gondree awarded NCWIT EngageCSEdu Engagement Excellence Award

July 9, 2019
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Gondree teaching CS115 at SSU

Dr. Mark Gondree, Assistant Professor, Computer Science Dept. at SSU received the NCWIT EngageCSEdu Engagement Excellence Award. Sponsored by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and funded by Google, this award recognizes faculty who employ particular teaching practices in their introductory computer science classrooms known to better engage students, especially women and underrepresented groups.

Recipients of the EngageCSEdu Engagement Excellence Awards demonstrate unique, refreshing approaches in developing course materials that foster an inclusive, interactive classroom environment and encourage confidence in students to persist. Recipients contribute their best materials to EngageCSEdu, a dynamic collection of high-quality, peer-reviewed instructional materials for introductory college and high school computer science courses.

Mark Gondree's CS1 assignment, Air Quality Index Calculator, is exemplary for its clarity of presentation, the quality of scaffolding, and the integration of highly relevant and meaningful interdisciplinary topic: the scientific measure of environmental air quality. Students are asked to write a prrogram that utilizes user input simulating data from environmental sensors to compute the appropriate air quality index and print the associated category metric. Professor Gondree includes relevant syntactic advice and hints, and effectively scaffolds the assignment by building in two checkpoints, each with sample input and output (subtly highlighting some special cases). These checkpoints integrate interactions with faculty into the assignment. In addition, he provides excellent references, allowing students to more fully explore this interdisciplinary topic. The assignment is coupled with a 'redux' version intended for students to revisit the topic once they have been exposed to more advanced data structures.

Make no mistake that retention is equally important as recruitment, when it comes to increasing women’s meaningful participation in computing,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Because these award recipients use sound teaching practices to energize and empower their students, they make a critical impact on students’ experiences with computing and can encourage students to continue in the field.”

In the U.S. in 2017, women earned 57 percent of all undergraduate degrees. Yet, women earned less than one-fifth of all computer and information sciences undergraduate degrees (www.ncwit.org/bythenumbers). Course materials that incorporate collaborate learning, interdisciplinary connections, and other particular teaching practices can help to engage and retain more underrepresented students in computing.


The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.