Asee peer logo

Promoting Success through Building Community for Computer Science and Computer Engineering Undergraduates

Download Paper |

Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Curricular Innovations in Computing -2

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer Engineering Division (ECE)

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--43988

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/43988

Download Count

151

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Sarah L. Harris University of Nevada - Las Vegas

visit author page

Dr. Harris is a Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Stanford University and has worked at Hewlett Packard, Nvidia, and the Technical University of Darmstadt. Before joining the UNLV faculty in 2014, she was a faculty member at Harvey Mudd College for ten years. Her research interests include embedded systems, biomedical engineering, and robotics, and she has co-authored three popular textbooks, most recently Digital Design and Computer Architecture: RISC-V Edition in 2021.

visit author page

author page

Yingtao Jiang University of Nevada - Las Vegas

author page

Christine Clark

author page

Ed Jorgensen

author page

Tiberio Garza Florida International University

author page

Norma A Marrun University of Nevada - Las Vegas

author page

Valerie L. Taylor

Download Paper |

Abstract

Building on prior studies that show a sense of belonging and community bolster student success, we developed a pilot program for computer engineering (CpE) and computer science (CS) undergraduates and their families that focused on building a sense of belonging and community supported by co-curricular and socioeconomic scaffolding. As a dually designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) – two types of federally designated Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI) – with 55% of our undergraduates being first-generation students, we aimed to demonstrate the importance of these principles for underrepresented and first-generation students. Using a student cohort model (for each incoming group of students) and also providing supports to build community across cohorts as well as including students’ families in their college experiences, our program aimed to increase student satisfaction and academic success. We recruited two cohorts of nine incoming students each across two years, 2019 and 2020; 69% of participants were from underrepresented racial or minority groups and 33% were women. Each participant was awarded an annual scholarship and given co-curricular support including peer and faculty mentoring, a dedicated cohort space for studying and gathering, monthly co-curricular activities, enhanced tutoring, and summer bridge and orientation programs. Students’ families were also included in the orientation and semi-annual meetings. The program has resulted in students exceeding the retention rates of their comparison groups, which were undergraduates majoring in CpE and CS who entered college in the same semester as the cohorts; first- and second-year retention rates for participants were 83% (compared to 72%) and 67% (compared to 57%). The GPAs of participants were 0.35 points higher on average than the comparison group and, most notably, participants completed 50% more credits than their comparison groups, on average. In addition, 9 of the 18 scholars (all of the students who wanted to participate) engaged in summer research or internships. In combination, the cohort building, inclusion of families, financial literacy education and support, and formal and informal peer and faculty mentoring have correlated with increased academic success. The cohorts are finishing their programs in Spring 2023 and Spring 2024, but data up to this point already show increases in GPA, course completion, and retention and graduation rates, with three students having already graduated early, within three and a half years. The findings from this study are now being used to expand the successful parts of the program and inform university initiatives, with the PI serving on campus-wide STEM pipeline committee aiming to recruit, retain, and support more STEM students at the institution.

Harris, S. L., & Jiang, Y., & Clark, C., & Jorgensen, E., & Garza, T., & Marrun, N. A., & Taylor, V. L. (2023, June), Promoting Success through Building Community for Computer Science and Computer Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43988

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2023 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015