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Forming and Fulfilling Expectations: Perspectives of Underrepresented Computer Science Doctoral Students

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Conference

2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity)

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

February 20, 2022

Start Date

February 20, 2022

End Date

July 20, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session 7 - Paper 3: Forming and Fulfilling Expectations: Perspectives of Underrepresented Computer Science Doctoral Students

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/39119

Download Count

188

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Paper Authors

biography

Vidushi Ojha University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Vidushi Ojha is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include novice programming and issues of diversity, equity, and access in computing.

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biography

Raul Enrique Platero University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Raul Platero is a PhD student in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Raul’s research delves into understanding what expectations doctoral students need to meet during their graduate studies and how the dissemination of these expectations affect students from underrepresented groups.

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Beleicia B Bullock Stanford University

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Beleicia Bullock is a first-year Computer Science Ph.D. student at Stanford University. Her research interests focus on leveraging human-computer interaction to develop equitable systems that support communities in online and offline settings. To this end, Beleicia explores both novel systems-building and interventions that can help train students to tackle these issues in the future.

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Abstract

In computer science (CS), institutions are failing to produce enough PhDs to fulfill available faculty positions. In part, this may be due to the fact that PhD programs in computing have higher rates of attrition than other STEM fields. In addition, women, persons with disabilities, and individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups are significantly underrepresented in CS, exacerbating the challenge of producing enough computing doctorates to fill faculty positions. Previous research shows that one key factor affecting the rate of degree completion among doctoral students is a clear understanding of what is expected of them in order to complete the program. This paper seeks to investigate perspectives of students from underrepresented groups in order to understand how they form expectations and how they fulfill them. We report findings from a qualitative analysis of 14 one-on-one interviews with doctoral computing students from underrepresented groups. We find that students have three primary sources from which they form expectations: prior research experience, their PhD advisor, and their peers in the program. Our analysis shows that prior experience did not fully prepare them for research in graduate school, and our participants indicated receiving high-level guidance from advisors, supplemented by lower-level help from peers. In order to better support all doctoral students, we provide two key insights. First, we recommend the creation of a lab-based mentorship system to provide students with support. Second, we find that successful communication requires clarity both on the goals students need to achieve and the steps needed to achieve them.

Ojha, V., & Platero, R. E., & Bullock, B. B. (2022, February), Forming and Fulfilling Expectations: Perspectives of Underrepresented Computer Science Doctoral Students Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39119

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