Connecting with Computer Science: Electronic Textile Portfolios as Ideational Identity Resources for High School Students


  • Mia S Shaw University of Pennsylvania
  • Deborah A Fields Utah State University
  • Yasmin B Kafai University of Pennsylvania


computer science, identity, portfolios, ideational resources, electronic textiles


The development of student identities—their interests in computer science, perceptions of the discipline, and sense of belonging in the field—is critical for broadening participation of underrepresented groups in computing. This paper reports on the design of portfolios in which two classes of high school students reflected on the process of making electronic textile projects. We examine how students expressed self-authorship in relation to computer science and how the use of reflective portfolios shaped students’ perceptions of computer science. In the discussion we consider how reflective portfolios can serve as ideational resources for computer science identity construction.

Author Biographies

Mia S Shaw, University of Pennsylvania

Mia S. Shaw is a doctoral student for the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research focuses on student voice in project-based learning, introductory computer science education with electronic textiles, and synthetic biology applications in K-12 classrooms. 


Deborah A Fields, Utah State University

Deborah A. Fields is an associate research professor of instructional technology and learning sciences at Utah State University. Her current research focuses on introductory computing education in areas of design with sewable electronics or the popular programming environment Scratch. This research carries over into the growing phenomenon of child-generated digital content in online environments, where she focuses on what this development means for children’s cultural rights, learning opportunities, and industry best practices. Her work has appeared in journals such as Mind, Culture and Activity, the International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, and the Harvard Educational Review.

Yasmin B Kafai, University of Pennsylvania

Yasmin B. Kafai is professor of learning sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher and developer of tools, communities, and materials for the promotion of computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. She recently authored Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming (2014), Connected Gaming: What Making Videogames Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (both with Quinn Burke), and Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual Worlds (2013;with Deborah Fields) and co-edited Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of Electronic Textiles and Education (2013; with Leah Buechley, Kylie A. Peppler, and Michael Eisenberg) and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming (2008; with Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner, and Jennifer Y. Sun). Kafai earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University while working with Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab. She is an elected fellow of the American Educational Research Association and of the International Society for the Learning Sciences.




How to Cite

Shaw, M. S., Fields, D. A., & Kafai, Y. B. (2019). Connecting with Computer Science: Electronic Textile Portfolios as Ideational Identity Resources for High School Students. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 21(1), 22–41.