Calvin Pohawpatchoko Jr.

On August 13, ATLAS doctoral student Calvin Pohawpatchoko Jr. successfully defended his dissertation, “Cultural Constructionism: an Indigenous Computing Experience.”

Pohawpatchoko’s research investigates why Native Americans are underrepresented in computing and how indigenous representation might be increased.

“I was in the IT profession for almost 20 years, and there weren’t many Native Americans in the field,” says Pohawpatchoko, who is a member of the Numunu People (Comanche Tribe) from the Quahada (Antelope) clan. “I had a dream to pursue a PhD and try to find answers to that question.”

Pohawpatchoko’s dissertation is a semi-longitudinal investigation of the design, application and evaluation of a novel abstraction of two learning theories from the late William Demmert, Culture-Based Education theory, and the late Seymour Papert, Constructionism theory, to form “Cultural Constructionism.”

Programs need to be developed specifically for Native Americans if they are to become interested in computing careers, says Pohawpatchoko. “Otherwise, it’s not going to be in their vernacular; if they are not aware of it, it’s not a career option.”