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Developing Communities of Practice to Serve Hispanic Students: Supporting Identity, Community, and Professional Networks

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Sarah Hug Colorado Evaluation & Research Consulting

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Dr. Sarah Hug is Director of Colorado Evaluation & Research Consulting. Dr. Hug earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research and evaluation efforts focus on learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with a special interest in communities of practice, creativity, and experiences of underrepresented groups in these fields across multiple contexts.

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The Cybersecurity National Science Foundation S-STEM scholarship project is a joint effort between two year and four year schools in two western regions of the country. All departments engaged in the project are parts of Hispanic-Serving institutions, in which at least 25% of enrolled students are Hispanic. The regions influenced by the project have average median incomes far below the national average. In this context, we study the effects of a scholarship program aimed to boost transfer to 4 year computing degrees, reduce time to graduation for students, and develop a network of professionals tackling cybersecurity as an area of emphasis. The research question that drives this project is: How does the design of the Cybersecurity S-STEM program support elements of learning through a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger 1998)? In this research project, we use community of practice theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) as well as Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain’s (1998) concepts of identity and agency to illustrate the experiences of computer science undergraduate students as they become more expert members of the community of computer science practice. Data that inform the work include: faculty interviews, activity observation, student surveys and interviews, and student transcript analysis to determine the influence of a scholarship program on student outcomes. Initial evidence suggests the scholars experience additional supports that shepherd their trajectories within computer science, including access to mentors, clear pathways from 2 to 4 year schools, research opportunities, and conference participation that further professional development. The design of the S-STEM project reinforces the notion of developing within a community of local, regional, and global computer science practice in an apprenticeship towards more central or “expert” community practice.

Hug, S. (2018, June), Developing Communities of Practice to Serve Hispanic Students: Supporting Identity, Community, and Professional Networks Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30305

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