Diversity, Retention Rates, and Undergraduate Computer Science

A new report released by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) uses data to examine and understand retention in U.S. undergraduate CS programs.  Although the report, Retention in Computer Science Undergraduate Programs in the U.S: Data Challenges and Promising Interventions, reveals that significantly better data is needed to draw any broad conclusions, it offers  a number of recommendations regarding data collection, successful interventions, and future research based on case studies from specific institutions and successfully-implemented interventions.

Recommendations include:

  • Instructors of introductory courses need to be involved in data collection.
  • Data should be evaluated in different contexts, using different denominators to determine how women and other groups are represented in computing in the context of their participation in higher education and their representation in society.
  • Institutions should not wait for more research before launching new interventions and using new insights to continuously refine and
    improve these interventions.
  • Educators should provide students with a well-rounded understanding of the discipline of CS and seek to overcome misconceptions.
  • Institutions should provide funding and educators should adopt pedagogical strategies to ensure that all students perceive classrooms and labs as welcoming environments.
  • Educators need resources to help them incorporate real-life problems into courses so students have early exposure to the positive societal role of CS.
  • Institutions need to provide proactive advising to ensure that students are exposed to career opportunities and pathways early in their undergraduate experience and are able to complete their intended major on time.  Read more:
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