CPSC 240 — OOA&D — Spring 2024

Responsive reading #1

Due: Friday, Jan 26th, 5pm


Read the following:

Essay questions

  1. Write a summary of Margolis' and Estrella's opening chapter, in about ½ single-spaced page. But before you write a single word, please read this important statement about the difference between a "summary" (which I'm asking for) and a "play-by-play" (which I'm not).
  2. It is a fact that racial minorities (except for Asians) are vastly underrepresented throughout the broad discipline of Computer Science in the United States, both in academia and in industry. Identify and articulate two plausible contributing factors to this phenomenon. (These can either be from the reading or from your own experience.) In a total of about ½ single-spaced page, argue in favor of one of these possible factors (in other words, persuade me that it does in fact contribute to underrepresentation of racial minorities) and against the other.
  3. Write a summary of Yao's article, in about ¼ single-spaced page.
  4. Choose one: (a) describe a time in your life when you have personally felt the effects of "imposter syndrome." Which parts of Yao's article ring true for your experience, and which do not? (b) reflect on why you have personally never felt the effects of "imposter syndrome." Why do you think you have thus far never experienced it? Your response to this item should be between ½ and ¾ single-spaced pages.

A word about paragraphs

Just as computer programs should be organized into modular components like functions and classes, so English prose should be organized into paragraphs. An enormous paragraph that takes up an entire page is like a giant main() of spaghetti code. It is not only difficult for a reader to even get through a wall of text, but it also betrays a lack of organization in the writer's thought process.

The rule is simple: each paragraph of an essay should be about one coherent, cohesive topic. Just as a function should do one job and do it well, a paragraph should be about one thing and explain it well. Take your time and think through what each of your individual points are, and formulate your paragraphs purposefully and effectively.

There is no "right answer"

Do not feel like I'm trying to channel you towards a particular explanation for the phenomenon of racial inequities in CS. There is no "right" (or "wrong") answer. Feel free to choose whichever explanations you feel are most interesting or compelling, and feel free to argue for (and against) them as best you can.

How this will be graded

To get full credit, your responses must:

Permitted resources

Visiting the Speaking and Writing Center is both allowed and highly encouraged.

You may choose to use an AI assistant (like ChatGPT) to help you hone your response. If you do, you must:


To submit this assignment, staple your pages together using a stapler, and stick it in the "240" manila folder hanging outside my office door. If you used an AI assistant such as ChatGPT, also send me (not Kenzie) the email as described above.