Jill Denner

Jill Denner

Senior Research Scientist II


(831) 440-2264


Jill Denner, PhD, is a senior research scientist at ETR. She does applied research and evaluation with a focus on broadening participation in computing and other STEM fields. Dr. Denner also has developed several after-school programs that engage children and their families in computer science. She has been principal investigator on 20 federal grants, written numerous peer-reviewed articles, and co-edited two books: Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming, published by MIT Press in 2008, and Latina Girls: Voices of Adolescent Strength in the U.S., published by NYU Press in 2006. Current research projects include: two research-practice partnerships to build a computer science education pathway from elementary to middle school and an information technology pathway from high school to college; a longitudinal study of career technical education pathways among community college students; and the development of a baseball-themed app to teach math and science. She is nationally recognized as an expert in strategies to engage girls/women and Latinx students in computer science, in both K–12 and community college, and regularly does peer review of journal articles and federal grant proposals. Dr. Denner earned her PhD in developmental psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College.

Current and Recent Projects

  • Math Pathways: A Longitudinal, Dyadic Study of Parent-Child Influence in Latino Families
  • Synthesis of Research on the Benefits of Computer Game Programming
  • Can Pair Programming Be Used to Increase Diversity in Computer Science?
  • Career Technical Education: Factors Associated with Enrollment and Persistence in ICT Among Underrepresented Groups
  • Extra Innings: Using Serious Gaming and the Science of Baseball to Teach Science and Mathematics
  • Next Door to Silicon Valley: A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership to Address Disparities in Access and Expectations for Computer Science Education
  • A Coordinated, Cross-Institutional Career and Technical Education Cybersecurity Pathway


Research on Community Colleges

Lyon, L. A., & Denner, J. (2019). Chutes and Ladders: Institutional Setbacks on the Computer Science Community College Transfer Pathway. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 19(3), 25.

Denner, J. & Werner, L. (in press, 2019). The community college experience: Enrollment and persistence of African American and Latina women in Computer Science. In B. Polnick, B. Irby, & J. Ballenger. (Eds.). Girls and women of color in STEM: Navigating the double bind. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.

Lyon, L.A., & Denner, J. (2017). Community colleges: A resource for increasing equity and inclusion in computer science. Communications of the ACM, 60(12), 24-26.

Lyon, L. A. & Denner, J. (2016). Student Perspectives of Community College Pathways to Computer Science Bachelor's Degrees. Mountain View, CA: Google Inc. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/Q0wJJv.

Denner, J., Ortiz, E., & Werner, L. (2015). Women and men in computer science: The role of gaming in their educational goals. In J. Prescott (Ed.), Gender considerations and influence in the digital media and gaming industry, 18-35. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Denner, J., Werner, L., & O’Connor, L. (2015). Women in community college: Factors related to intentions to pursue computer science. NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education 8 (2): 156-171.

Denner, J., Werner, L., O’Connor, L., & Glassman, J. (2014). Community college men and women: A test of three widely held beliefs about who persists in computer science. Community College Review, 42 (4): 342-362.

Denner, J., & Werner, L. (2013). Increasing diversity in computing: Results of a study of community colleges. Computer Science Teachers Association Voice, 9 (5): 4-5.

Werner, L., Denner, J., & O'Connor, L. (2012). Know your students to increase diversity: Results of a study of community college women and men in computer science courses, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 27 (4): 100-111. http://dl.acm.org/ft_gateway.cfm?id=2167451&ftid=1173437&dwn=1&CFID=113985074&CFTOKEN=72018363


Research on Children & Computer Programming

Denner, J., Campe, S., & Werner, L. (2019). Does Computer Game Design and Programming Benefit Children? A Meta-Synthesis of Research. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 19(3).

Denner, J. & Campe, S. (2018). Equity and inclusion in computer science education. In S. Sentence (Ed.), Computer Science Education in School: Perspectives on Teaching and Learning, pp. 189-206. UK: Bloomsbury.

Sullivan, F.R. & Denner, J. (2017). Why don't we do a better job of teaching computer science? Education Week, 36(36), 24.

Denner, J., Marsh, E., & Campe, S. (2017). Approaches to reviewing research in education. In D. Wyse et al. (Eds.), The BERA/SAGE Handbook of Educational Research. Sage Publications.

Hartl, A. C., DeLay, D., Laursen, B., Denner, J., Werner, L., Campe, S., & Ortiz, E. (2015). Dyadic instruction for middle school students: Liking promotes learning. Learning and individual differences 44, 33-39.

Werner, L., Denner, J., & Campe, S. (2015). Children programming games: A strategy for measuring computational learning. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 14 (4): 24.

Werner, L., Denner, J., & Campe, S. (2014). Using computer game programming to teach computational thinking skills. In K. Schrier (Ed.), Learning, Education and Games: Volume 1 Curricular and Design Considerations, 37-53. Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press.

Denner, J., Werner, L., Campe, S., & Ortiz, E. (2014). Using game mechanics to measure what children learn from programming games. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 4 (3): 13-22

Denner, J., Werner, L., Campe, S. & Ortiz, E. (2014). Pair programming: Under what conditions is it advantageous for middle school students? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46 (3): 277-296.

DeLay, D., Hartl, A. C., Laursen, B., Denner, J., Werner, L., Campe, S., & Ortiz, E. (2014). Learning from friends: Measuring influence in a dyadic computer instructional setting. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 37 (2): 190-205.

Werner, L., McDowell, C., & Denner, J. (2013). First step in learning analytics: Pre-processing low-level Alice logging data of middle school students. Journal of Educational Data Mining. http://www.educationaldatamining.org

Campe, S., Denner, J., & Werner, L. (2013). Intentional computing: How teachers can maximize student learning from computer game programming. Journal for Computing Teachers.

Campe, S., Werner, L., & Denner, J. (2012). Game programming with Alice: A series of graduated challenges. Computer Science Teachers Association, Special Issue: Computer Science K-8: Building a Strong Foundation.

Werner, L., Denner, J., Campe, S., & Kawamoto, D. (2012). The Fairy Performance Assessment: Measuring computational thinking in middle school, Proceedings of Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education, Feb. 29 – Mar. 3, Raleigh, N. Carolina, USA

Werner, L., Campe, S., & Denner, J. (2012). Children learning computer science concepts via Alice game-programming, Proceedings of Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education, Feb. 29 – Mar. 3, Raleigh, N. Carolina, USA.

Denner, J. Werner, L., & Ortiz, E. (2012). Computer games created by middle school girls: Can they be used to measure understanding of computer science concepts? Computers and Education, 58 (1): 240-249.

Fristoe, T., Wardrip-Fruin, N., Mateas, M., Denner, J., & MacLaurin, M. (2011, June). Say it with systems: Expanding Kodu’s expressive power through gender-inclusive mechanics. Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games, France.

Lee, I., Martin, F., Denner, J., Coulter, B., Allan, W., Erickson, J., Malyn-Smith, J., & Werner, L. (2011, March). Computational thinking for youth in practice.  ACM Inroads, 2 (1): 32-37.

Werner, L. & Denner, J. (2009). Pair programming in middle school: What does it look like? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 2 (1): 29-50.

Werner, L., Denner, J., & Campe, S. (2006). IT fluency from a project-based program for middle school students. Journal of Computer Science Education Online, issue 2, 2005-2006. www.iste.org


Research on Girls & Information Technology

Denner, J., Ortiz, E., Campe, S., & Werner, L. (2014). Beyond stereotypes of gender and gaming: Video games made by middle school students. In H. Agius & M. Angelides (Eds.), Handbook of Digital Games, 667-688. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Denner, J., Werner, L., Martinez, J. & Bean, S. (2012). Computing goals, values, and expectations: Results from an after-school program for girls. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 18: 199-213.

Denner, J. (2011). What predicts middle school girls’ interest in IT? International Journal of Gender in Science, Engineering, and Technology, 3 (1). http://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/106/245

Denner, J. & Martinez, J. (2010). Whyville versus MySpace: How girls negotiate identities online. In S.R. Mazzarella (Ed.), Girl Wide Web 2.0:  Revisiting Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity, 203-222. Peter Lang publishers.

Denner, J., Bean, S., & Martinez, J. (2009). The Girl Game Company: Engaging Latina girls in information technology. Afterschool Matters, 8, 26-35.

Kafai, Y., Heeter, C., Denner, J., & Sun, J. (Eds.) (2008). Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New perspectives on gender and gaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Denner, J. & Campe, S. (2008). What do girls want? What games made by girls can tell us. In Y. Kafai, C. Heeter, J. Denner, & J. Sun (Eds.), Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New perspectives on gender and gaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Denner, J. & Werner, L. (2007). Computer programming in middle school: How pairs respond to challenges. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37 (2): 131-150.

Denner, J. (2007). The Girls Creating Games Program: An innovative approach to integrating technology into middle school. Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 1 (10). http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/win2007/girlgaming/index.htm

Denner, J. & Bean, S. (2006). Girls, games, and intrepid exploration on the computer. In E.M. Trauth (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology, 727-732. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.

Denner, J., Werner, L., Bean, S., & Campe, S. (2005). The Girls Creating Games Program: Strategies for engaging middle school girls in information technology. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies. Special Issue on Gender and IT, 26 (1): 90-98.


Research on Girls & Positive Youth Development

Lepore, G., & Denner, J. (2016). SexEd2.0: A framework for positive sexuality in serious games. In Y.B. Kafai, G.T. Richard, & B.M. Tynes (Eds), Diversifying Barbie: Intersectional perspectives and inclusive designs in gaming. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon, ETC Press, 293-307.

Denner, J. & Bean, S. (2010). The Young Women’s Leadership Alliance: Political socialization in three U.S. high schools. Jahrbuch Jugend-forschung (Yearbook of Youth Research), 8, 85-103.

Denner, J., Meyer, E., & Bean, S. (2005). The Young Women’s Leadership Alliance: Youth-adult partnerships in an all-female after school program. The Journal of Community Psychology, 33 (1): 87-100.

Bean, S., Meyer, E., & Denner, J. (2004).  The interplay of leadership and friendship in the Young Women’s Leadership Alliance. Feminism & Psychology, 14 (3): 389-394.

Denner, J. & Griffin, A. (2003). The role of gender in enhancing program strategies for healthy youth development. In F. A. Villarruel, D. F. Perkins, L. M. Borden, & J. G. Keith (Eds.), Community Youth Development: Programs, Policies, and Practices,  pp. 118-145.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Denner, J. (2001). The gap between feminist theory and practice: Lessons from teenage women in California. Feminism & Psychology, 11, 161-165.

Denner, J., Kirby, D., & Coyle, K. (2001). How communities can promote positive youth development: Responses from 49 professionals. Community Youth Development, (3).


Research on Latinos

Denner, J., Laursen, B., Dickson, D., & Hartl, A. (2018). Latino children’s math confidence: The role of mothers’ gender stereotypes and involvement across the transition to middle school. Journal of Early Adolescence, 38(4), 513-529.

Díaz, Y., Denner, J., & Ortiz, E. (2017). Critical methods in longitudinal research with Latino immigrant families. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 39(2), 150-168.

Denner, J. Martinez, J., & Thiry, H. (2017). Strategies for engaging Hispanic/Latino youth in the US in computer science. In Y.A. Rankin & J.O. Thomas (Eds.), Moving Students of Color from Consumers to Producers of Technology, pp.24-48. IGI Global.

Denner, J., & Martinez, J. (2016). Children and youth making digital media for the social good. In B. Guzzetti and M. Lesley (Eds.), Handbook of Research on the Societal Impact of Digital Media. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Denner, J., Martinez, J., Thiry, H. & Adams, J. (2015). Computer science and fairness: Integrating a social justice perspective into an after school program. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, 6 (2): 41-54.

Valdes, O. M., Laursen, B., Guimond, F. A., Hartl, A. C., & Denner, J. (2016). Maternal psychological control and its association with mother and child perceptions of adolescent adjustment: More evidence on the strength of shared perspectives. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 1-13.

Denner, J. & Rivera, G. (2011). Latinos’ educational pathways: Research and program perspectives. In N. Cabrera, F.A. Villarruel, & H.E. Fitzgerald (Eds.)  Latina and Latino children’s mental health: Development and Context, 14-167. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Denner, J. (2009). The role of the family in the IT career goals of middle school Latinas. AMCIS 2009 Proceedings. Paper 334. http://aisel.aisnet.org/amcis2009/334

Denner, J. & Coyle, K.C. (2007). Condom use among sexually active Latina girls in alternative high schools. In B. Leadbeater & N. Way (Eds.), Urban Girls Revisited, pp. 281-300. New York: New York University Press.

Denner, J. & Guzmán, B. (2006). Latina girls: An edited volume on strengths and  strategies. NYU Press.

Denner, J., Cooper, C. R., Dunbar, N., & Lopez, E. M. (2005). Latinos in a college outreach program: Application, selection, and participation. Journal of Latinos and Education, 4 (1), 21-41.

Denner, J., Organista, K. C., Dupree, J. D., & Thrush, G. (2005). Predictors of HIV transmission among migrant and marginally-housed Latinos. AIDS & Behavior, 9 (2), 199-208.

Denner, J. & Dunbar, N. (2004). Negotiating femininity: Power and strategies of Mexican American girls. Sex Roles, 50(5-6), 301-314.

Denner, J., Kirby, D., Coyle, K., & Brindis, C. (2001). The protective role of social capital and cultural norms in Latino communities: A study of adolescent births. Hispanic Journal of  Behavioral Sciences, 23, 3-21.

Cooper, C. R., Denner, J., & Lopez, E. M. (1999). Cultural brokers: Helping Latino children on pathways toward success. In M.B. Larner (Ed.), When school is out. The Future of Children, 9, 51-57.

Cooper, C. R. & Denner, J. (1998). Theories linking culture and psychology: Universal and community- specific processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 559-584.

Allen, L., Denner, J., Yoshikawa, H., Seidman, E., & Aber, J. L. (1996). Acculturation and depression among Black and Latina girls. In B. Leadbeater & N. Way (Eds.), Urban adolescent girls: Resisting stereotypes, creating identities. NY: New York University Press.

Allen, L., Aber, J. L., Seidman, E., Denner, J., & Mitchell, C. R. (1996). Mothers’ parental efficacy at mid-life in a Black and Latina sample: Effects of adolescent change across a school transition. In C. D. Ryff & M. M. Seltzer (Eds.), When children grow up: Development and diversity in mid-life parenting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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