My research is invested in making visible technology’s role in mediating structural oppression and providing avenues to pursue more equitable futures.
To this end, I have three main research strands:
understanding feminist approaches to computer programming
fostering inclusive STEM educational environments
applying user-experience methods that encourage stakeholders to take on roles as co-designers
FEMINIST CODING LITERACY
Though emerging networked information technologies are commonly discussed in terms of their empowering impact on users, they can actually amplify existing disparities based on race, class, and gender. In fact, problems of access and equity in programming have contributed to the rapid growth of alternative forms of coding education as an industry.
Because of the growth of the programming industry and its influence on public discourses on literacy, it is essential to learn more about the nature of contemporary programming education—to focus not just on the rhetoric embedded within code, but also the institutional contexts in which code is written.
My book-length project analyzes how coding literacy is understood, taught, and practiced in sites of programming education designed for underrepresented communities, including women of color, mothers, and gender-diverse individuals. I use participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and grounded theory analysis to understand how programming literacy functions across sites of coding education.
My research enriches the already provocative theories of the rhetoricity of code through its focus on the material, social, and digital contexts in which programming is taught and made. Drawing on early data from this project, I have published research in Transactions on Professional Communication and Technical Communication.
Rea, A. (2022). Coding Equity: Social Justice and Computer Programming Education. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 36(2), pp. 87-103. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2022.3143965.
Rea, A. (2021). “Changing the Face of Technology”: Storytelling Practice in Activist Coding Organizations. Technical Communication, 68(4), pp. 26-39.
ENGINEERING EQUITY: FOSTERING INCLUSIVE STEM EDUCATION
In collaboration with student researchers and colleagues in engineering, I am leading a study on gender-inclusive pedagogies for introductory engineering programming classes. This study uses an infrastructural approach and critical incident analysis methodology to illuminate moments of marginalization experienced by women and gender-diverse students with the aim of fostering more inclusive learning environments.
Rea, A., Adams, J., Ali, H., & Robertson, K. (Proposal accepted, draft under review). Fostering Educational Equity in Engineering. Proceedings of the 2023 ASEE Annual Conference.
PARTICIPATORY DESIGN & WRITING CENTERS
As the director of ERAU’s inaugural writing and design lab, I applied UX methodologies to the planning, design, and prototyping of the university’s physical and digital center.
Chesley, A., Cromer-Twal, E., Rea, A., Osunos, M., Winks, C., Singh, M., & Zhang, T. (Proposal accepted, full draft under review). Leveraging Participatory Design and User Experience Methods to Collaboratively Envision an Inclusive, User-centered Writing and Design Lab. Programmatic Perspectives, 14(1).