Higher Education

Survey-in-a-Box

Survey-in-a-Box: Student Experience of the Major

A survey and associated resources for assessing, interpreting, and improving the climate of undergraduate computing departments to improve retention of and increase enrollment by all students.

Talking Points

Institutional Barriers & Their Effects: How can I talk to colleagues about these issues?

Institutional barriers (IBs) are policies, procedures, or situations that systematically disadvantage certain groups of people. IBs exist in any majority-minority group situation. When an initial population is fairly similar (e.g., in male-dominated professions), systems naturally emerge to meet the needs of this population. If these systems do not change with the times, they can inhibit the success of new members with different needs. IBs often seem natural or “just the way things are around here.”

Talking Points

Comparing U.S. K-12 Students' Math and Science Performance Internationally: What are the facts, what do they mean for educational reform, and how do I talk effectively about the issues?

In the popular press and in public debate, one often hears that U.S. students are performing poorly in math and science in comparison to other countries. What is the basis for these claims? What are students’ actual scores and rankings? How should we interpret and use these scores? A better understanding of the evidence is important for making effective policy decisions that affect computer science and other STEM fields.

What Makes Electronic Mentoring Effective? MentorNet - www.MentorNet.net (Case Study 1)

What Makes Electronic Mentoring Effective? MentorNet - www.MentorNet.net (Case Study 1)

By removing time and location constraints, e-mentoring allows women to connect with many more women than face-to-face mentoring permits. It can also promote more open mentor-protégé communication by limiting status differences. MentorNet is an online resource for women in engineering and science who seek one-on-one guidance from mentors in their respective fields. By providing mentors with online resources for training, coaching, and consulting, MentorNet provides positive structure for the mentor- protégé relationship. Both mentors and protégés report benefiting from the program.

How Does Engaging Curriculum Attract Students to Computing? Media Computation at Georgia Tech (Case Study 1)

How Does Engaging Curriculum Attract Students to Computing? Media Computation at Georgia Tech (Case Study 1)

Making curricula more relevant to students, introducing collaborative learning into the classroom, and tailoring courses to different student experience levels benefit female as well as male students. This approach to introductory computing involves encouraging social interaction and creativity while presenting subject matter that is relevant to non-computing majors. Evaluation at Georgia Tech showed that the Media Computation approach resulted in increased student success rates (earning an A, B, or C) from 72 percent to about 85-90 percent.

How Does Engaging Curriculum Attract Students to Computing? Harvey Mudd College's Successful Systemic Approach (Case Study 2)

How Does Engaging Curriculum Attract Students to Computing? Harvey Mudd College's Successful Systemic Approach (Case Study 2)

Making curricula more relevant to students, introducing collaborative learning into the classroom, and tailoring courses to different student experience levels benefit female as well as male students. This case study focuses on the successful pre- and early-computing major redesign carried out at Harvey Mudd College. Student performance has held steady while skyrocketing women’s representation from consistently less than 20% all the way to 50% of the incoming computer science majors.

How Does Combating Overt Sexism Affect Women's Retention? Assessments for Identifying Overt Sexism (Case Study 1)

How Does Combating Overt Sexism Affect Women's Retention? Assessments for Identifying Overt Sexism (Case Study 1)

Sexism has measurably harmful effects, but sexist behavior can be minimized. Instructors and supervisors can practice zero tolerance and facilitate positive peer interactions, and they can provide highly visible leadership, policies, and procedures that go beyond legalities to explicitly denounce sexism. This case study identifies available surveys and issues that should be considered when assessing the prevalence of sexist behavior in an organization.

How Do You Support Completion of Graduate Degrees and Engender Commitment to a Research Career? Advisor as Steward of the Discipline (Case Study 1)

How Do You Support Completion of Graduate Degrees and Engender Commitment to a Research Career? Advisor as Steward of the Discipline (Case Study 1)

Students most likely to complete their graduate studies are those who are viewed as junior colleagues in a positive relationship with their advisors and who are well integrated into their department’s or lab’s intellectual community. Where one woman graduate student finds support and guidance from her advisor, another is stifled by her advisor’s inconsistent and inappropriate behavior. Systems of accountability, together with trained and caring advisors, increase the chances that doctoral students will successfully navigate the path to research careers.

How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning? Peer-Led Team Learning (Case Study 2)

How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning? Peer-Led Team Learning (Case Study 2)

Collaborative learning can improve retention rates, critical thinking, appreciation of diversity, and development of social and professional skills. When implementing collaborative learning, match students roughly according to experience levels and make sure to give students opportunities to work together for both graded and un-graded assignments. Peer-led team learning in computer science allows students to work together with a classmate or more advanced peer directing group exercises and discussion. Courses that have utilized PLTL boast lower course drop rates and higher grades.

How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning? Pair Programming (Case Study 1)

How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning? Pair Programming (Case Study 1)

Collaborative learning can improve retention rates, critical thinking, appreciation of diversity, and development of social and professional skills. When implementing collaborative learning, match students roughly according to experience levels and make sure to give students opportunities to work together for both graded and un-graded assignments. Pair programming assignments within computer science courses both attract and retain more students in CS majors. In addition, women feel more confident when pair programming is used in the classroom.

How Do You Recruit or Retain Women through Inclusive Pedagogy? Designing for Diversity (Case Study 2)

How Do You Recruit or Retain Women through Inclusive Pedagogy? Designing for Diversity (Case Study 2)

Women and minority students are not in computing courses under the same conditions as their white male classmates. Instructional practices offer opportunities to level the playing field and improve the retention of underrepresented students. A new, smaller introductory computer science class tailored for inexperienced students at the University of Virginia recruited more minority and women students and resulted in many more students declaring a major in computer science.

How Do You Recruit or Retain Women Through Inclusive Pedagogy? The Conversational Classroom (Case Study 1)

How Do You Recruit or Retain Women Through Inclusive Pedagogy? The Conversational Classroom (Case Study 1)

Women and minority students are not in computing courses under the same conditions as their white male classmates. Instructional practices offer opportunities to level the playing field and improve the retention of underrepresented students. Professor William Waite abstained from lecturing his students on assigned reading and relied instead on the students to direct the information discussed in the classroom.

How Do You Provide Intentional Role Modeling? Regional Celebrations of Women in Computing - R-CWIC (Case Study 1)

How Do You Provide Intentional Role Modeling? Regional Celebrations of Women in Computing - R-CWIC (Case Study 1)

In addition to demonstrating expertise and experience, intentional role models display their strengths and weaknesses and help observers see how they could attain a similar position. Role modeling is less interactive than mentoring, but is often a component of mentoring relationships. Women attending the Indiana and Ohio Celebrations of Women in Computing observe role models who are keynote speakers from technical fields, panelists with technical careers in industry, and presenters of technical papers.

How Do You Mentor Faculty Women? Georgia Tech Mentoring Program for Faculty Advancement (Case Study 1)

How Do You Mentor Faculty Women? Georgia Tech Mentoring Program for Faculty Advancement (Case Study 1)

Faculty mentoring programs help junior faculty to acclimate and promote relationships that can cover a broad range of topics. These programs enhance career commitment and self-confidence in women. Successful programs initiate mentor pairings early for new faculty and formally facilitate the relationship until the mentor-protégé bond is established.

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Unplugged (Case Study 2)

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Unplugged (Case Study 2)

Engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong. Students respond positively to solving real-life problems that draw on their existing knowledge and interests and that involve collaboration in hands-on projects. “CS Unplugged” demystifies computing through hands-on activities, including one activity called “Sorting Network.” The activity employs kinetic learning and teamwork to illustrate parallel sorting networks to organize data.

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Teaching Programming and Language Concepts Using LEGOs® (Case Study 4)

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Teaching Programming and Language Concepts Using LEGOs® (Case Study 4)

Engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong. Students respond positively to solving real-life problems that draw on their existing knowledge and interests and that involve collaboration in hands-on projects. In this easy-to-implement classroom activity, individual LEGOS® bricks are used to express a special-purpose programming language, allowing students to kinetically approach concepts and skills in computing in a non-intimidating fashion.

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Storytelling (Case Study 1)

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Storytelling (Case Study 1)

Engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong. Students respond positively to solving real-life problems that draw on their existing knowledge and interests and that involve collaboration in hands-on projects. By focusing on problem-solving skills, the computer programming environment “Learning to Program with Alice” takes a new approach that helps students see programming as a series of causal relationships.

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Snap, Create, and Share with Scratch (Case Study 5)

How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way? Snap, Create, and Share with Scratch (Case Study 5)

Engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong. Students respond positively to solving real-life problems that draw on their existing knowledge and interests and that involve collaboration in hands-on projects. Scratch is a free “media rich programming environment” in which novice programmers can quickly express their creativity while learning computational thinking.

How Do Stereotype Threats Affect Retention? Better Approaches to Well-Intentioned, but Harmful Messages (Case Study 1)

How Do Stereotype Threats Affect Retention? Better Approaches to Well-Intentioned, but Harmful Messages (Case Study 1)

Stereotype threat harms both performance and motivation by reducing our feelings of competence, belonging, and trust in our colleagues. However, careful thought, education, and regular assessment of diversity practices can help minimize incidents of stereotype threat. Examples show how instructors and advisors can minimize stereotype threat by creating an accepting environment where students feel at ease and are recognized for their achievements. In addition, student test scores improve and gender gaps are eliminated when students are taught that intelligence increases through effort.

How Do Admissions Criteria Affect Women's Representation in Graduate Computing? Attempts to Equalize a Subjective Process (Case Study 1)

How Do Admissions Criteria Affect Women's Representation in Graduate Computing? Attempts to Equalize a Subjective Process (Case Study 1)

When admission committee members minimize the biasing effects of stereotypes and consider applicants’ membership in an under-represented group as a positive characteristic, they promote diversity. By looking carefully at women and considering their life experiences, University of California, San Diego and University of California, Berkeley admit more women students than their peer institutions.

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