Melkers Co-authors Article on Impact of Covid on Underrepresented Groups in Computing

Julia Melkers

Posted June 28, 2022

Julia Melkers, professor in the School of Public Policy, co-authored an article published in the University of Pennsylvania’s Computer-Based Learning in Context. The paper, written alongside researchers from the PARK Lab in the School of Psychology, is titled “Hidden Costs: Covid-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Underrepresented Groups in Online Computing Education.”

In it, the team notes that certain negative effects of the pandemic disproportionately harmed both students and workers in low-wage sectors. They then pose the question as to whether or not this same inequity extended to those in “bright prospect” industries, such as computing. In surveying 989 employees enrolled in an Online Master of Science in Computer Science program at the onset of the pandemic, the researchers find “significant disparate impacts to work and learning as a function of age, race, and psycho-social factors (e.g., social support).”

Melkers and her co-authors then argue that while these results came during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, they can be used to guide responses to future disruptive events.

“Specifically, results highlight the value of a ‘whole-person’ approach to more precisely identify the pathways by which these disruptive effects occur, particularly in the context of career development,” they write. “At the institutional level, interventions to support adult learners through disruption should incorporate such an approach.”

Read the full article at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6616493.

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School of Public Policy | Sam Nunn School of International Affairs