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The Computer Science Talent Enhancement Program

The Computer Science Talent Enhancement Program  

The Computer Science Talent Enhancement Program (CS-TAP) focuses on the retention of under-represented students in computer science, as well as recruiting these students to explore computer science in action. Three distinct strategies will be employed in re-designing introductory courses in the computer science major that will each be evaluated for success to meet the project goals.  Each intervention is student-centric and targets minority students and women, the group of students that has historically been under-represented nationwide, and has exhibited low retention rates in computer science. Each intervention can be individually exported to other STEM disciplines at other institutions with prior planning.  Our re-designed courses will integrate interdisciplinary solutions offered by computer science with an active-learning model.  For example, students will program robots while learning to meet the objectives of the introductory computer science courses and will explore software used by law-enforcement personnel to solve cyber-crime. Professional development opportunities such as seminars, each year, for faculty across our university will focus on culturally attentive pedagogies and model programs that have helped increase student persistence in groups who are poorly represented in several STEM areas. Faculty will engage in sharing culturally sensitive practices to help elevate causes that may hinder women and minorities from pursuing computer and information sciences as well as engineering fields.


Our program for the early college populations will also implement low-stakes, frequent assessment to steadily engage students and track their performance. This will enable us to  provide timely mediation for all students to succeed in early computer science courses. This important piece of the program will help students build stronger skills for long-term success and persistence via positive re-enforcement. The project is designed for a medium sized four year college with class sizes for computer sciences freshman limited to 20 students. This is particularly important for some of the initiatives we propose, such as peer mentoring and hands-on experiences with high-end technologies. Our program is expected to impact 100 students each year, which includes students who will take our re-designed sections of the introductory computer science classes as first year students as well as students in the Sophomore year University Core Course that will be designed with an aim of recruiting students to computer science. Three faculty members will be involved in the project with responsibilities that range from curriculum design and development, assessment, teaching, organizing faculty seminars, recruiting peer leaders, and project management.


The broader impact of the project includes improving the retention rates of women and minority students in computer science and engineering technology to a comparable rate as in other disciplines, recruiting women and minority students to minors and majors in computer and information science; advancing student interest in computer science topics in introductory courses; and supporting leadership experiences and opportunities for our students.  The results and experiences of our project will be widely disseminated to encourage other institutions to adopt our successful interventions.


The Computer Science Talent Enhancement Program - TIDES AAC&U Press Release