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Overview of DEP/Radgrad (September, 2018)

Philip Johnson
September 14, 2018

Overview of DEP/Radgrad (September, 2018)

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and related industries are projected to grow faster than any other over the next ten years, and US universities are not currently able to meet the projected demand. One problem is retention: fewer than 40% of students who enter college with the intention of majoring in a STEM field such as computer science actually complete the degree. Another problem is diversity: the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science is decreasing. This project will assess a new approach to improving engagement, retention, and diversity in undergraduate computer science education. The approach has two components: a conceptual framework called "Degree Experience Plans" (DEP), and an open source software system called RadGrad for developing and managing these plans. DEP/RadGrad gives first class status to both curricular activities (courses) and extracurricular activities (discipline-oriented events, activities, clubs, etc.) To establish the first class status of extracurricular activities, DEP/RadGrad replaces GPA as the single metric for success with a three component metric called ICE that assesses student development with respect to Innovation, Competency, and Experience. Each student's Degree Experience Plan also includes a representation of their disciplinary interests and career goals that helps them assess the relevance of potential curricular and extracurricular activities. While the project focuses on computer science education, the approach may support improvements to engagement, retention, and diversity in other STEM disciplines as well.

Research on improving diversity and retention in STEM/Computer Science disciplines, as well as research on Individual Learning Plans and Communities of Practice, all point to the potential impact of a more holistic representation of the undergraduate degree experience. This project will gain insight into the factors that help or hinder adoption of Degree Experience Plans and RadGrad; the impact of adoption on undergraduate retention and diversity; whether DEP/RadGrad differentially impacts on students based upon demographic factors; and the factors that help or hinder its ability to effect institutional and community change.

Philip Johnson

September 14, 2018

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  1. (1) DEP/RadGrad: Enhancing individualized learning plans and communities of practice

    to improve engagement, retention, and diversity in undergraduate computer science education Philip Johnson, Carleton Moore Dept. of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawaii Seungoh Paek, Peter Leong Dept. of Learning Design and Technology, University of Hawaii
  2. (3) What do we want? Retention! • Less students bailing

    on a STEM degree. Diversity! • More women, underrepresented groups
  3. (5) Why do we want it? 65% of students will

    work in jobs that don’t exist today.
  4. (6) Why do we want it? CS majors have tripled

    since 2006 and will continue to grow.
  5. (7) Why do we want it? US high school students

    rank near bottom of industrialized nations in math.
  6. (8) Why do we want it? Fewer than 40% of

    STEM majors complete the degree.
  7. (9) Why do we want it? Female participation in CS

    has declined from 37% in the mid- 1980’s to 18% in 2014
  8. (11) Why do we want it? Women are less likely

    to join and more likely to leave CS than men.
  9. (12) Why do we want it? The epicenter for CS

    innovation suffers from entrenched sexual harassment
  10. (14) What are we doing about it? Increase class size,

    increase academic barriers, reduce course offerings (Generation CS, 2017)
  11. (15) What are we doing about it? Enrollment limits, increased

    class sizes, academic barriers disproportionately impact underrepresented groups
  12. (16) What are we doing about it? Short-term educational programs

    do not provide analytical depth needed for leading edge of innovation
  13. (17) What are we doing about it? Students must decide

    for themselves how to integrate these course offerings with their conventional degree program
  14. (18) What are we doing about it? Great for target

    demographic, do not necessarily address overall engagement and retention
  15. (20) Objectives of this project Improve engagement • Widen and

    deepen interest in CS Improve retention • Increase odds of finishing the degree Improve diversity • Increase engagement and retention among women and underrepresented groups
  16. (21) The big idea “Old School” degree programs: • Single

    kind of activity (coursework) • Single metric for success (GPA) • “Career Planning” separate from “Academic Planning” Maybe part of the problem for engagement, retention, and diversity
  17. (22) The big idea The “Degree Experience Plan (DEP)” •

    First class status for both curricular and extracurricular activities • GPA replaced by “ICE” metric (Innovation, Competency, Experience) • Explicit representation of disciplinary interests and career goals • Implemented in a “private social network” called RadGrad which includes game mechanics to encourage participation and appropriate degree planning behavior
  18. (24) RadGrad RadGrad provides a faculty-curated database of interests and

    career goals appropriate to the discipline and department
  19. (25) RadGrad Students design a degree plan containing both curricular

    and extracurricular activities based on interests, career goals
  20. (26) RadGrad Progress and quality of degree plan assessed through

    Innovation, Competency, and Experience points, not GPA
  21. (27) RadGrad Students “pay it forward” by providing non-anonymous (moderated)

    reviews of curricular and extracurricular activities.
  22. (28) RadGrad Mentors (former students and high tech professionals) can

    support students through a modified “AMA” format.
  23. (29) RadGrad RadGrad provides a specialized UI for academic advisors

    so they can help students more efficiently and effectively.
  24. (31) Why might this work? Factors to increase gender diversity:

    1. Positive reinforcement of CS pursuits from friends and family 2. Self-perception as interested in problem solving and belief that those skills can be translated to a successful career 3. Availability of curricular and extracurricular activities 4. Perception of CS as a career with diverse applications and potential for societal impact These factors are generally lacking in traditional degree programs. DEP/RadGrad addresses 2, 3, 4
  25. (32) Why might this work? Communities of practice: • A

    domain of interest shared by all practitioners • Members engage in joint activities and discussions • Members are practitioners, not just people with shared interests. • Members develop a shared repertoire of resources CS Departments are not usually CoPs for undergrads RadGrad identifies CoPs, helps build them
  26. (33) Why might this work? Individual learning plan: • Originally

    developed for middle and high school • Align academic activities with post-school goals (college, military, etc.) • Include academic planner, career explorer, personality and learning style assessments, resume builder, action plan University programs do not have ILPs DEP/RadGrad is an ILP
  27. (35) Research Questions What factors facilitate, or impede, student, faculty,

    and advisor utilization of DEP/RadGrad? What are the relationships between student demographic variables and (a) program retention and (b) diversity? What are the impacts of DEP/RadGrad utilization on (a) program retention and (b) diversity? What are the impacts of DEP/RadGrad utilization on student perceptions regarding (a) STEM learning and (b) career opportunities?
  28. (36) Status We built it, now will they come? We

    have funding for graduate RAs. Contact [email protected] for more info