In February 2022, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Rebecca Wright, Director of the Vagelos Computational Science Center and Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science, and Jennifer Rosales, Vice President for Inclusion and Engaged Learning, and Chief Diversity Officer, a grant to create a Computing Fellows program at Barnard and study its effectiveness. The grant-funded project, entitled “Computing Fellows Program: Increasing Meaningful Computing Engagement Across Disciplines,” aims to lower the barriers of entry for computing while boosting students’ confidence in their ability to succeed academically as well as their interest in the field. Computing Fellows are undergraduate peer academic leaders who help students to engage with computing. Fellows are attached to courses and can develop and lead computational activities, support students in ongoing computational projects, and provide one-on-one consultations with students in those courses. Fellows also meet weekly as a cohort and engage with anti-racist computing pedagogy, practice workshops, and build community with each other.
Through evidence-based peer and near-peer learning, the program aims to promote self-efficacy, a sense of belonging, and engaged student learning. Previous research has linked these factors to enhanced recruitment and retention of women in computing. Attracting and retaining diverse set of students to computing is essential to preparing today’s students to be future leaders regardless of their field, and for addressing the computing workforce’s lack of diversity. The principal investigators will evaluate the program’s success using a mixed-methods research design and document the program and its outcomes so that successful practices can be adopted by others.