April 20, 2017
April 20, 2017
April 22, 2017
Diversity and Pacific Southwest Section
Despite various efforts, the number of female first-time freshmen studying computing and engineering at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) remains low. In Computer Engineering and Computer Science, the proportion of female students has been declining since 2003 from 25% to 10% in 2014. Through the support from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), we are attempting to break this pattern through directed recruitment and retention strategies.
We adopted recruitment strategies that NCWIT has identified as successful at other universities and that could be implemented at CSULB. These are: increase outreach to admitted students during their decision-making process, improve messaging on relevant websites and printed materials, and conduct roadshows at local high schools and community colleges. The effectiveness of the recruitment strategies is analyzed by surveying students who participated in activities and students who have enrolled in first-year engineering courses. The outreach consisted of an e-mail campaign to students admitted to four computing and engineering programs. The first message congratulated them and provided highlights of the computing/engineering programs and included concise profiles of recent faculty hires, and student organizations. The second message invited students to tour the department, college, and CSULB campus. The campaign was successful as measured by the students who responded with great enthusiasm and who attended the tours.
The retention strategies included creating classroom modules that promote career exploration and strengthen problem solving skills to help foster success during their first year in engineering. The first implementation started in Fall 2016 with the Introduction to Engineering Profession course. This retention strategy emphasizes presenting students with role models to inspire them to an engineering career. In the subsequent spring semester, additional activities will be implemented in the discipline-specific introductory courses for aerospace, mechanical, and computer engineering and computer science. The activities emphasize developing a design solution to a real-life problem to promote problem-solving skills and appreciation of engineering application in everyday life. Pre and post surveys will evaluate the effectiveness in increasing students’ understanding and motivation toward an engineering career.
Another retention strategy consisted of workshops to help faculty and staff understand factors that enhance the success of underrepresented students in engineering. Two of the faculty development workshops were led by postdoctoral researchers at CSULB Motivation and Social Identity Lab, who presented research on factors that draw underrepresented groups into engineering and the barriers they encounter in entering the field. A third workshop was led by a faculty from Harvey Mudd College, where they have had great success increasing the number of women who choose to study computer science, on effective teaching practices for creating equitable learning spaces. The fourth workshop on creating and fostering a growth-minded classroom was led by CSULB faculty from Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Instilling a growth mindset in students has been shown to be effective in student retention.
Monge, A., & Marayong, P., & Asgari, S., & Penzenstadler, B., & Shankar, P. (2017, April), Recruitment and Retention Efforts to Broaden Participation in Four Computing and Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona. https://peer.asee.org/29231
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