What student groups historically marginalized in computing do you plan to engage? What opportunities and constraints do these students face in computing research?
Our research will engage Black-identifying undergraduate students. There is a considerable gap in the participation of Black students in research vs. their White counterparts, especially in doctoral programs. According to the Pew Center, Black students accounted for only 7% of research doctorates in Computer Science during the 2017-2018 year vs. 60% for White students and 13% for Asian students . According to the 2020 Taulbee Survey, Black students represent only 1.7% of new Ph.D. students in Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) fields, vs. 64.9% of Non-resident Alien students and 21.2% White students . From the same survey, only 1.4% of CISE PhDs were awarded to Black students vs. 64.6% for Non-resident Alien students and 22% for White students. Hence, it is critical to focus efforts to improve Black students’ participation in computing research.
We believe that Black-identifying students may benefit from mentorship, articulation of additional pathways to computing careers, skills development, and networking opportunities. Research has shown how mentoring produces positive outcomes in academic performance, retention in computing programs, and an increased likelihood to pursue graduate studies , . As research suggests, the lack of exposure to opportunities in computing may impact the representation of Black students in computing , , thus, exposure to research opportunities, especially during their undergraduate career, can increase the likelihood that they may consider pursuing an advanced degree in computing.
How do you plan to recruit students?
We propose a multi-organization strategy to recruit students to participate in the proposed workshop. This approach leverages the principal investigator’s (PI) role as the Interim National Director of the International Society of Blacks in Computing (ISBIC), his role as the Clemson University faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and his relationship with Clemson University’s PEER/WISE organization. The ISBIC is a new organization established in 2020 to foster diversity in the field of computing through the support and mentoring of people who identify as Black. The ISBIC has agreed to advertise the proposed program to its student members through its website and on-campus events. The Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) are Clemson University initiatives to educate, recruit, and retain underrepresented populations in STEM fields. PEER/WISE will advertise the proposed initiative to incoming and returning Black undergraduates. The third aspect of our recruiting strategy involves the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). NSBE is one of the world’s largest student-governed organizations and is committed to increasing the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers in industry and academia. A annual NSBE-associated recruiting event will be held on Clemson University’s main campus and advertised on the Clemson NSBE website. All three organizations (NSBE, ISBIC, PEER/WISE) will be provided with promotional material for the CCII program.
Anticipated number of students reached
Who are the individuals, institutions, and organizations that will support the workshop? How will these partners support the workshop?
The CCII program will be supported by the PI, Dr. Julian Brinkley, Clemson University’s School of Computing, the International Society of Blacks in Computing (ISBIC), the Clemson chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER), and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). Dr. Brinkley will lead and coordinate all workshop activities and will be responsible for guiding the experience of participants. As a Black male Human-Centered Computing faculty member with close ties to thought leaders in the Black computer science community like Dr. Juan Gilbert, Dr. Brinkley is uniquely positioned to lead this effort. Clemson University will leverage its speaker series to bring in Black computing professionals within and outside of academia to give talks that will be open to the public. While the talks will be computer science focused, they will be structured to engage and inspire marginalized workshop participants to pursue computing careers and graduate studies. Clemson’s School of Computing, ISBIC, NSBE, and PEER/WISE will assist with student recruitment. Each entity will leverage their community reach to distribute digital and physical promotional materials to advertise the workshop.
Strong applications will demonstrate how the proposed initiative and sustainment plan build student self-efficacy, sense of belonging, practical skills and motivation to pursue computing research.
In addition, strong applications will outline activities to foster a research culture (e.g., research training, experiential projects, mentorship), grow students’ professional capital and networks, build science identity and peer community, and provide holistic advising (e.g., graduate admission process, transition to graduate school life, academic and financial resources).
List 3-5 objectives and how you’ll measure their achievement.
The proposed activity has four primary objectives: 1) To increase the interest of Black students in pursuing computing-related graduate studies, 2) To grow the Black-identifying computing research community at Clemson University and in rural South Carolina, 3) To cultivate the computer science identity of Black-identifying students at Clemson University, and to 4) Increase student awareness of career opportunities in computing and related fields. Objectives 1 and 2 will be measured by year over year Black-identifying enrollment changes within Clemson’s School of Computing (SOC). Objectives 3 and 4 will be measured using surveys distributed to Black-identifying students in the SOC. The surveys will attempt to provide insight to the following research questions, RQ1: “To what degree do the Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program activities help students to cultivate their computer science identity?”, and RQ2: “What impact do the Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program activities have on student awareness of career opportunities in computing and related fields?”.
What will students be doing, when, and how? Why will the content, activities, and schedule meet students’ needs?
The Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program (CCII) is imagined as a three-year initiative designed to increase interest in computing research. The program will be specifically targeted towards one group of students historically marginalized in the field: Black-identifying undergraduates. The program is designed around the concepts of inclusive design and accessibility. Students within the program will be exposed to computing research through the process of designing and prototyping technologies to support the needs of adults with a sensory, motor, or cognitive disability. Yearly workshop activities will occur in parallel to the PI’s undergraduate/graduate course, “Human-Centered Computing 4150/6150: Inclusive Design and Accessible Technology”; a 3-credit hour introduction to the concept of inclusive design that explores the use of inclusive design processes in the development of accessible technology. CCII undergraduate participants will be placed in four-person design teams that will include one to two Human-Centered Computing (HCC) or Computer Science (CS) graduate students and one co-designer with a visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disability. Leveraging a version of
Google’s “Start with One, Invent for Many” process ,this design team will seek to design and prototype a technology intended to make a meaningful difference in the lives of persons with disabilities. While student projects may focus on personal mobility, health, wellness or other topics, students will be presented with a user-centered design framework intended to guide the research process. This process, which will be supported by workshops intended to serve as an introduction to user-centered research skills, will help participants to: 1) Gain empathy for the end user, 2) Define the problem and articulate a point of view, 3) Ideate and create design alternatives, 4) Prototype, and 5) evaluate an artifact. Steps 1 through 3 will occur during the Fall semester in parallel to the course activities of HCC 4150/6150. Steps 4 through 5, which will focus on the prototyping, implementation, and evaluation of a technology will occur in the following semester (Spring). The annual activities of the CCII program will be repeated in years two and three.
Months 1-6 (Fall)
- Kick off Meeting – TBD Invited Speaker (School of Computing Speaker Series) Group Selection and Team Creation
- Workshop-Conducting Human-Subjects Research / Working with People
- Workshop-Gaining Empathy
- Workshop-Understanding Disability
- Workshop-Defining the Problem
- Workshop-How to Brainstorm and Ideate
Months 7-12 (Spring)
- TBD Invited Speaker (School of Computing Speaker Series)
- Workshop – Prototyping and Fabrication I
- Workshop – Prototyping and Fabrication II
- Workshop – Artifact Evaluation
- Project Showcase
Workshop length is to be determined but it is anticipated that they will follow the 75 to 120- minute format of the Stanford D-School’s crash courses in design thinking . The PI has leveraged this “crash course” approach to inclusive design within HCC 4150/6150 in prior semesters .
Student sustainment plans
Although there are many benefits for Black-identifying students to participate in computing research, there are potential obstacles that they may encounter. Two of the most notable obstacles are the underrepresentation of Black faculty in computing-related fields and the general lack of a “critical mass” of Black-identifying students at any one Predominantly White Institution (PWI). According to the 2020 Taulbee Survey, Black or African Americans make up only 2.3% of all faculty and staff in CISE departments and 1.6% of all tenured or tenure-track faculty . Hence, students may have greater difficulty in finding a mentor of the same race. In turn, Black students may not feel a sense of belonging in computing because they do not see faculty, staff, or many students who look like them. Research in STEM education suggests that Black-identifying students may feel their identity becomes lost through the absence of a Black community at PWIs , . We argue that this issue of representation and community may be ameliorated by the proposed CCII program by creating mentoring networks of Black-identifying undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. A cohort approach will be leveraged whereby members of the initial group will mentor subsequent cohorts. This approach will foster a sense of community and togetherness which we argue will support a sense of belonging for these Black-identifying students at PWIs like Clemson.
How would an exploreCSR award build capacity for supporting students from historically marginalized groups in computing research?
The proposed program will serve as a proof of concept that will be expanded into a larger program and series of initiatives potentially supported through funds received from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CCII program is an integral component of an NSF proposal currently under development by the PI and faculty from North Carolina Central University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). The NSF program, “Racial Equity in STEM Education” seeks to support bold, ground-breaking, and potentially transformative projects addressing systemic racism in STEM disciplines like computing. The PI believes that the CCII program is a bold and transformative program that as part of a larger initiative will engage a broad range of Black-identifying students with computing research opportunities. NSF funding will expand the CCII program from a single site program into a multi-site program that, in involving an HBCU, reaches a broad spectrum of Black-identifying students. Beyond broadening participation through the inclusion of Black-identifying students in computing research the program also serves a dual purpose by encouraging research into accessibility. A 2018 report found that while 84% of the companies surveyed believed hiring computing professionals with skillsets rooted in user-centered design and accessibility was important, 60% reported problems finding job candidates with the requisite accessibility skillset .
Proposed budget allocation
- Co-Designer travel stipends $20 X 30 co-designers X 4 design sessions = $2400
- Co-Designer Incentive (persons with sensory, cognitive and motor disabilities) $50 X 30 co-designers X 4 design sessions = $6000
- Gift cards for students to order meals $10 X 90 students x 7 days = $6,300
- Welcome packets with CCII promotional materials $15 X 90 students = $1350
- School of Computing Speaker Series Speaker Honorarium $500 X 2 speakers = $1000
- Prototyping and fabrication materials $200 X 90 students = $18,000
- Design and Ideation materials $50 X 90 student = $4,500 Total = 43,000
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