WSSU Awarded $296,340 to Support Computer Science Students

Dr. Jinghua Zhang

Dr. Jinghua Zhang

August 18, 2011
    Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received a $296,340 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop game-like instructional modules to enhance student learning in the school’s core computer science classes.

    "Struggling with the initial computer programming courses is the main barrier preventing our students from declaring a computer science major and from remaining in the program", said Dr. Jinghua Zhang, assistant professor of computer science.  “Many minority students have fears of programming which has led to fewer African Americans pursuing computer science degrees.  Even of those who do follow the major, few are employed as programmers.
    "The recent increase in demand for programmers who can develop applications for mobile devises has created a great opportunity for minority computer scientists to influence the computing industry. This project is designed to help WSSU students and to attract new minority and female students to the major," Zhang added.

    The grant covers a three-year project that will design, test and evaluate the game-like instructional modules.  In addition to the educational component, the project will establish an advisory board that includes faculty and professionals from the game industry who will assist in project development and who, with faculty and students, will be involved in the evaluation process for the modules.

    "We will also develop a website, organize a faculty workshop and other outreach efforts that will allow us to share the modules, results of the project and lessons learned with other historically black colleges and universities that face the same issues as WSSU," Zhang added. "This project will not only enhance our students’ ability to learn, but also potentially transform the way these core computer science classes are taught."

    The grant period begins Sept. 1 of this year and runs through Aug. 31, 2014, providing the time necessary to develop and evaluate the modules, introduce them to the students and assess the impact the work has in the classroom.

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