Avoiding stereotypes helps foster an inclusive student community. Stereotypes are fixed, overgeneralized beliefs about a group of people. They can make individuals feel unwelcome and unfairly judged. By avoiding stereotypes in both verbal and written communication faculty can help all students feel welcome and seen as individuals. Faculty should also discourage students from using stereotypes in their communication, including in their assignments and during class discussions.

Some suggestions

Choose your examples wisely. Examples can inadvertently reinforce stereotypes so try using ones that are not stereotypically associated with one group, e.g., cell phones, the color green.

Set expectations for professional behavior. This includes, but is not limited to, the expectation that students will not use derogatory or potentially insensitive language with each other, and that they will refrain from using it in their assignments, e.g., “The picture should not include hateful, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate images.”.

Attend to the physical and digital environments. Labs, classrooms, and social spaces can reinforce stereotypes about who the “typical” computer science student is. So can webpages. Check out your program’s physical spaces and websites to see what messages they may be sending.

Even “positive” stereotypes can hurt. Be careful making even seemingly positive comments that rely on stereotypes (e.g., “women are so good with. . .”). They can create division and trigger stereotype threat.

Examples from the collection


CS2 Syllabus

The CS2 course introduces object-oriented programming, data structures, and more sophisticated algorithms than in CS 171 (Computer Science I) which is a prerequisite for this course. You are not expected to have any prior experience with Java. In terms of the ACM’s Computer Science Curriculum 2013, this course addresses the following knowledge areas: • Algorithms and Complexity (AL) • Discrete Structures (DS) • Programming Languages (PL) • Software Development Fundamentals (SDF) • Software Engineering (SE)

Scrambled Words

In this project students work alone to create a Scrambled Words program. Using Python and their knowledge of functions, conditionals, and loops, students must design a program which opens a file and scrambles the letters in each word, but maintaining the first and last letter. The student is required to use a function to complete this program. This assignment is particularly useful for students learning strings and lists and those who need practice using functions, conditional statements and loops.

Assignment 1: Computing prime numbers, product of primes

In this assignment students work to solve cumulative math problems in Python. The first problem asks students to generate a list of prime numbers below n. The second problem asks students to prove a math proof that states the product of primes is less than n or equal to e*n. These problems help the students review concepts including variables, computational flow, conditionals, loops, and math library functions.


In this project students work alone to create a program to generate statistics about baseball players. Using Python and their knowledge of lists and tuples, students must design a program to manage information about baseball players and allow a user to execute several commands, including one to display a report on the top 'n' players in a given category (hits, batting, slugging). This assignment is particularly useful for students who need experience with manipulating lists and decomposing a problem into smaller subproblems.

Homework #2: Functions

In this assignments, students complete an initial written warmup to recall the benefits of using functions, and how its control flow manifests in wider programs, before moving onto a programming component that goes through several independent problems. Each of these problems is arithmetic in nature, to give an initial understanding of variables and computation. This assignment is best for students that would benefit from reinforcement of the purpose of variables and functions, before having to use them in wider contexts.

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