July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Computing and Information Technology
In this Work in Progress, we present a progress report from the first two years of a five-year Scholarships in STEM program. The number of graduates with computing related degrees from colleges and universities, especially female and underrepresented minorities (URM), is too small to keep up with the fast-growing demand for IT professionals across nation and Tennessee specifically. To reduce the gap in the Tennessee region, our university launched a 5-year S-STEM Scholarship program in 2018 to recruit and graduate more computer science students, especially female and URM. The scholarship program supports about 20 qualified Pell-eligible students every year. Each recipient receives an annual stipend of up to $6000 for no more than three years. In order to increase their interest in computer science and to improve retention of CS majors, a pipeline of well-proven activities were integrated into the program to inspire exploration of the CS discipline and computing careers at an early stage and help students gain work experience before graduation. These activities include, but are not limited to: summer research program that provides opportunities for students to conduct research in different computer science areas, peer-mentoring program that leverages experience and expertise of the group of CS majors who work in the computing field to better prepare scholarship recipients for their careers, and professional conference attendance program that sends students to professional conferences to explore computer science careers and build their own networks. The preliminary data suggest that these activities had a positive effect on our students. We find that the financial support allows students to focus on both academics and searching for computing-related employment. Early analysis of institutional data shows that scholars take more CS credit hours and achieve a higher GPA than other Pell-eligible and non-Pell eligible students, thus making faster progress toward their degree. The support to attend in-person conferences and summer research opportunities had a transformative impact on many participating scholars. The original mentoring program was less effective and has been redesigned to include higher expectations for mentors and mentees and increased faculty involvement. This paper will describe the program elements and explain the effects of these activities on our students with preliminary outcome data and formative evaluation results about the program.
Dong, Z., & Phillips, J. L., & Oslund, E., & Pettey, C., & Brawner, C. E. (2021, July), Positive Impact of an S-STEM Scholarship Program on Computer Science Students’ Academic Performance and Retention Rate Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37586
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