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Cynthia Lee: How to teach computer science

A lecturer in Stanford School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science says that change must come to the classroom from the top and the bottom.
Two young women work together on a laptop.
Fewer lectures and more hands-on, peer-to-peer collaboration are in order, says a computer science lecturer. | iStock/izusek

As the field of computer science has evolved over the last half century, so too has the way in which computer science is taught and to whom it is taught.

Stanford lecturer Cynthia Lee says she is encouraged by the diversity she sees as she looks out over her classroom. But that wasn’t always the case, particularly when she, a woman, was in college. Lee has since dedicated her career to changing that mindset from a fixed and rigid outlook to one that is more open and welcoming of diverse backgrounds and skills.

Change, she says, can come from the top in how classes are structured and at the foundation in undoing preconceptions about who can excel in the field. Diverse faces, myriad skills and interests, fewer lectures and more hands-on, peer-to-peer collaboration are in order, Lee tells listeners to this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast with host Russ Altman. Listen and subscribe here.

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