Customizing Your BPC Plan

The following resources may be helpful to you writing Project and Departmental BPC Plans. Please contact us with any feedback or recommendations for additional resources.

 

Resources for Selecting BPC Activities

Departments should aim to deepen, improve or expand their BPC activities and data collection each year. The following categories may serve as a resource for guiding that work.

Student and Faculty Retention

Retention is an important focus for BPC work. The following five categories can drive effective retention efforts. Resources are linked below for each category.

  • Curriculum and Pedagogy: Monitor and improve curriculum and pedagogy.
  • Building Community: Provide funding for affinity groups to build community among students or faculty who are underrepresented in computing. 
  • Data and Evaluation: Track data related to student or faculty retention. 
  • Departmental Policies: Monitor and improve institution policies that may have a negative impact on students or faculty who are underrepresented in computing.
  • BPC Education: Create opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to learn about BPC.

Outreach and Recruiting

Departments can contribute to the national goals for BPC through outreach to K-12 students or community members. Additionally, departments can recruit students and faculty to their department who are underrepresented in computing:

  • Outreach to K-12: Engage in activities that serve K-12 students who are underrepresented in computing regardless of whether or not the students will matriculate at your institution.
  • Outreach to K-12 Teachers and Schools: Engage in activities that serve K-12 teachers that are teaching students who are underrepresented in computing regardless of whether or not the students will matriculate at your institution. Work with high-school counselors who play an important role in helping students select classes and opt into high-school CS classes when available.
  • Outreach to K-12 Policy Makers: Engage with state-level stakeholders and policy makers to update teacher certification policies or other policies related to BPC at the K-12 level.
  • Recruit Students: Recruit potential graduate students, high school students or community college students  to attend your institution or recruit undeclared majors from your institution to declare a computing major or take computing courses.
  • Expand Opportunities for Research: Recruit and/or mentor students who are underrepresented in computing. 

 

Resources for Data and Evaluation

Data is essential for motivating your proposed activities and evaluating the impact of your activities at achieving desired outcomes. Data can be collected directly from BPC activity participants, from the institution, region, or field. This page has resources for compiling publicly available data, recommendations for compiling participation data from the department, and collecting data to guide improvements or expansion of BPC activities.

Publicly Available Data Repositories

Publicly Available Data Compilations

Institutional Data of Participation and Performance

Departments should aim to track changes in participation across groups at their institution. Departments may begin collecting these data without corresponding activities. Partnering with offices of Institutional Research may be both necessary and beneficial. The categories below may not be applicable to every institution and other categories may be relevant at some institutions. Departments may benefit by collecting, tracking, and reporting the following demographic data annually:

  • Faculty (by rank),
  • PhD students (enrolled, degree recipients),
  • MS students (enrolled, degree recipients),
  • BA/BS students in a computing major (enrolled, degree recipients),
  • Computing minors (enrolled, degree recipients),
  • Introductory students (CS1, CS2, CS3), and
  • Students earning a D or F, or withdrawing from particular computing courses (typically called DFW rates)

Consider focusing on identifying retention problems because points with low retention likely warrant additional data collection and intervention. Additionally, improving retention magnifies the impact of recruiting efforts.

Disaggregating data when possible can help identify specific opportunities for BPC activities. Departments may benefit from disaggregating data by:

  • race/ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • disability,
  • economically disadvantaged or first-generation college status (i.e, no parent/guardian with a 4-year college degree), and
  • intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, disability, economically disadvantaged, and/or first-generation college status.

Note: Only race/ethnicity, gender, and disability are included in the NSF definition of underrepresentation and all BPC activities need to focus on people who are underrepresented in computing because of these dimensions of their identity. The ACM has recommendations for designing survey questions related to sex/gender.

Evaluation Data: Data to Guide Improvements or Expansion of BPC Activities

Collecting feedback from department members (faculty, staff, and students) is a best practice that can help identify opportunities for BPC activities. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or providing specific processes for department members to provide feedback. Example surveys are available for various purposes as described below; inventing survey questions can be challenging because survey questions may be misinterpreted.

  • Surveying students in the department
    • Data Buddies Survey: The Computing Research Association provides a free survey administered every fall, which provides departments a report of their student responses compared to the responses of students from similar institutions as well as breakdown of their data by gender and race/ethnicity.
    • Student Experience of the Major: NCWIT provides a free survey that departments can customize and administer to their students, and data is designed to be disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity.
  • Collecting basic data about ongoing activities
    • Tracing approximate participation data for BPC activities can help identify opportunities for improving or expanding BPC activities. For example, if an ACM-W chapter had two well attended events, it may be helpful to support the ACM-W chapter in hosting additional events. Similarly, if an ACM-W chapter had few attendees at their events, a departmental plan could focus on strategies to increase attendance at ACM-W events.
  • Evaluating ongoing activities
  • Evaluating the success of your recruiting activities
    • Pre-Post Survey for Outreach Programs: NCWIT provides a free set of surveys to use before and after students participate in an outreach program.
    • Entry Survey: NCWIT provides a free survey that departments can customize to identify the impact and reach of their recruiting activities among their current students, and data is designed to be disaggregated by  gender and race/ethnicity.

 

Resources for Curriculum and Pedagogy

Research has shown that improving curriculum and pedagogy in CS courses can benefit all students and provide additional benefits to students who are underrepresented in CS.

Curriculum

The following strategies do not change the learning outcomes or rigor within the curriculum. These strategies use best practices to make curriculum effective for all students and also specifically contribute to BPC. Small and large changes to curriculum can have a big impact on students’ experience and are an important strategy for addressing demographic differences in retention rates or rates of students receiving a D or F or withdrawing from a class (known as DFW rates).

  • Revise Homework Assignments: Strategies for small, impactful changes to homework assignments to highlight how and why students are learning course content, which have been show to most benefit students who are underrepresented on college campuses and first-generation college students (i.e., students without a parent or guardian who has completed a 4-year college degree).
  • Adopt peer-reviewed homework assignments: The Engage CS Edu project hosts peer-reviewed homework assignments for use in CS0, CS1, Data Structures, and Discrete Math. The posted assignments have been reviewed by experts in BPC to ensure they apply best practices for BPC.
  • Revise introductory sequence: If introductory courses assume prior CS knowledge, consider creating a path into the major for students who did not have an opportunity to learn CS. Students who are underrepresented in CS because of race or ethnicity are less likely to have access to a CS course at their high school (Scott, et al., 2017). In addition, more men than women have taken an AP CS class in high school (Lim & Lewis, 2020).

Pedagogy

Pedagogy describes the teaching methods. Active learning, a general best practice, describes practices where students engage in discussion or problem solving in class rather than simply listening to lectures. A meta-analysis of 225 STEM education research studies compared active learning to lecture-only courses (Freeman, et al., 2014). This analysis discovered that the lecture-only sections had lower exam scores (6% or 0.47 SD) and students were 1.5 times more likely to fail. Follow-on work compared performance between minoritized groups (i.e., students underrepresented in STEM because of their race or ethnicity and low-income students) and non-minoritized groups on exams (15 studies; 9,238 total students) and pass-rates (26 studies; 44,606 total students). This comparison determined: “On average, active learning reduced achievement gaps in exam scores and passing rates. Active learning benefits all students but offers disproportionate benefits for individuals from underrepresented groups.” (Theobald, et al., 2020). Specific resources for improving pedagogy to adopt best practices include:

  • Revising Lecture Content: CS education researchers have developed Peer Instruction for Computer Science, which offers ready to use active learning curriculum for common CS courses using a method called “Peer Instruction.”
  • Self-Assessment Tool for improving teaching: This 10-minute self assessment tool helps University faculty in STEM disciplines identify research-based teaching practices that they are and are not using (Wieman and Gilbert, 2017).

 

Resources for Building Community

Building community is important to give students a sense of belonging and promote persistence in computing.

Support Affinity Groups and Peer Mentoring

Activities could include supporting or creating affinity groups. Affinity groups are student groups focused on creating community among students with a particular identity.

Host a Regional Women in CS Conference

NCWIT has created a guide for hosting a regional Women in CS conference.  Additionally, there may be existing Regional Women In CS conferences that welcome participation from additional organizers.

Fund Travel to Diversity Focused Conferences

Conferences focused on diversity in computing can be an opportunity for students to create community both with other students from their own institution and the wider computing community. They can also provide the opportunity for students to connect with role models.

  • Help students get the most out of conference attendance: PIs can be involved by attending the conference with students (allies are typically welcome) and helping prepare students to make the most out of the conference experience (Davis & Alvarado, 2017)

Some relevant national conferences are:

 

Resources for Improving Departmental Policies

Departmental policies and practices can sometimes have a disparate impact on students who are underrepresented in computing. The resources below augment other resources that are available for improving Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Policies for undergraduate students

  • Revise the introductory sequence: If introductory courses assume prior CS knowledge, consider creating a path into the major for students who did not have an opportunity to learn CS. Students who are underrepresented in CS because of their race or ethnicity are less likely to have access to a CS course at their high school (Scott, et al., 2017). In addition, more men than women have taken an AP CS class in high school (Lim & Lewis, 2020)
  • Recruit and hire TAs who are committed to inclusivity: Departments can improve policies for recruiting and hiring TAs, following the model at University of Michigan (Kamil, Juett, & DeOrio, 2019). For example, TA applicants can submit an essay about how they will apply inclusive teaching practices as a TA and a 5-minute teaching video.
  • Modify major admissions criteria to avoid competition and requirement of HS experience: Competitive major admissions policies in a department predict a lower sense of belonging among first year students (Nguyen & Lewis, 2020). Departments can follow the model at the University of California, San Diego, which seeks to reduce competition and avoid using high school access to CS to select CS majors because high school experience in CS is unequally distributed by race, class, and gender (Scott, et al., 2017).

Policies for graduate students

Policies for faculty hiring and evaluation

 

 

Resources for BPC Education

To create an inclusive computing community, a BPC plan can prepare faculty, staff, and students to understand the importance of BPC and best practices for BPC. Proposed BPC activities could involve one of the following educational resources.

  • Institution resources: Many institutions offer resources for faculty, staff, and students to learn about diversity and inclusion. Such resources are likely applicable to BPC and therefore are an effective resource for BPC education. A BPC Plan might include intentions to attend existing events or host learning opportunities within the department.
  • Explanation of BPC: This essay explains why BPC is important and an explanation of vocabulary relevant to BPC (e.g., related to social identities like race, ethnicity, and gender). The articulation of the importance of BPC can be helpful to include in a BPC Plan.
  • Self-Paced Education: NCWIT provides an online (~30 hour) course “Introduction to Diversifying Undergraduate Computing Programs” for faculty to learn about BPC. The course provides coaching to collect and analyze retention data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of identity important to BPC.

Activities should also be explicit about who will participate in the BPC education. For example, BPC education could occur annually at

  • A faculty meeting,
  • Onboarding of new researchers to a research team, or
  • Training of teaching assistants.

 

 

Resources for Faculty Retention

The following recommendations are relevant for retention of faculty who are underrepresented in computing because of their race, ethnicity, gender, or disability status.

Improve the Department Environment and Policies

  • Adopt practices for effective faculty recruiting, mentoring, and evaluation: The University of Michigan’s Advance Project has resources for policies and practices related to faculty recruiting, retention, mentoring, annual evaluation and tenure evaluations.

  • Adopt practices for inclusive faculty hiring: NCWIT offers advice for inclusive faculty hiring.
  • Educate faculty about bias in teaching evaluations: Research shows that teaching evaluations are biased against women and people of color (Chávez & Mitchell, 2020), which is important to consider in faculty evaluation processes.
  • BPC Education: Providing BPC education can help department members develop cultural competence, learn to avoid saying microaggressions (Roberson, 2020), and become more effective allies. The University of Michigan provides an FAQ specifically to explain why faculty choose to leave and what institutions can do to retain them.
  • Monitor Service Inequity: A Career Feature article in Nature (Gewin, 2020) provides a summary of and examples of “Cultural Taxation,” which is when “Academics from minority ethnic groups are targeted to serve on diversity, equity and inclusivity committees, as mentors to junior colleagues from minority ethnic groups and to participate in other schemes that take time away from their research.”

Provide Mentorship and Networking Opportunities for Faculty 

  • Provide Internal Mentors: The University of Michigan report Creating a Positive Departmental Climate: Principles for Best Practices includes the suggestion that “mentoring is likely to be more effective when it is documented and when the people acting as mentors are rewarded for and/or held accountable for the task.” This document also describes different structures for mentoring programs and a related resource provides advice for faculty who are providing and receiving advice and advice specific to supporting new faculty
  • Identify External Mentors: The University of Maryland, Baltimore County invites senior academics to serve as mentors to junior faculty through their Eminent Scholar Mentoring Program, which can help faculty build their network of mentors, collaborators, and sponsors. 
  • Fund Networking Opportunities: Funding travel to conferences can be an important opportunity for networking. Beyond typical academic conferences, the Building Community resources include a list of diversity-focused conferences that can help faculty build their network.

Fund Professional Development for Faculty

  • NCFDD: The National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD) is “an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of faculty, postdocs, & graduate students from over 450 colleges and universities.” Dr. Rockquemore, founder of NCFDD and co-author of “The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure — Without Losing Your Soul” provides context for the need for supporting Black faculty members (Jaschik, 2008). 
  • Computing-Specific Career Workshops: In addition to workshops co-hosted at technical conferences, the following workshops are for participants who are from groups underrepresented in computing. The workshops aim to help them thrive and advance their career to the highest possible levels. 
    • CMD-IT: The Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT) provides an annual Academic Career Workshop. Workshops are for those early in their academic career.
    • CRA-WP: The Computing Research Association’s Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research (CRA-WP) offers Career Mentoring Workshops Workshops are for those in early or mid stages of their career in academia, industry or at a government lab.

 

Resources for K-12 Outreach

The following resources are relevant for serving K-12 students who are underrepresented in computing regardless of whether or not the students will matriculate at your institution. Related resources exist for Recruiting Students to your institution or working with Teachers and Schools or K-12 Policy Makers.

  • Institution resources: Many institutions have existing K-12 outreach initiatives with which PI(s) could partner. It is important, however, to ensure that any proposed activity explicitly focuses on BPC.
  • Local Non-Profits: PI(s) could  partner with a local nonprofit that serves K-12 students who are underrepresented in computing. The CSforAll Consortium has a member directory, which may help PI(s) identify additional local partners for K-12 outreach focused on BPC. The Connectory, a project of the National Girls Collaborative, provides a similar directory of volunteer opportunities.
  • Advice, templates, and sample outreach materials: On the NCWIT website, you can find a collection of ready-to-use resources co-developed by CS faculty​ for colleges and universities interested in doing K-12 outreach focused on BPC.
  • Student-Led Outreach Network: The STARS Computing Corps is a program at dozens of institutions to broaden participation in computing through student-led outreach.

Engaging in K-12 outreach is most impactful when PI(s) have experience working with K-12 students or are partnering with someone with K-12 expertise. Reminder: BPC activities, including K-12 outreach, do not need to relate to the content of the research proposal.

 

 

Resources for Outreach to K-12 Teachers and Schools

The following resources are relevant for working with K-12 teachers and schools who serve students who are underrepresented in computing regardless of whether or not the students will matriculate at your institution. Related resources exist for Recruiting Students to your institution or working with K-12 Students or K-12 Policy Makers.

  • Encourage K-12 teachers to promote the Aspirations in Computing program: NCWIT has a network of colleges and universities that host an award ceremony for high school women who are interested in computing.
  • Host a workshop about inclusive teaching for educators: The Tapestry Workshop Project offers workshops for K-12 CS teachers to share research-based best practices for inclusive teaching and recruiting.
  • Work with high school guidance counselors: NCWIT has developed Counselors for Computing, C4C to help high-school guidance counselors contribute to BPC at the high-school level.
  • Join your local Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Chapter: The CSTA brings together K-12 educators and local meetings provide the opportunity to identify teachers who could partner with you on BPC activities. CSTA has a search tool to find your local chapter.

 

Resources for Outreach to K-12 Policy Makers

While there are national resources with recommendations for K-12 CS education, policy governing K-12 CS education occurs primarily at the state-level.  BPC plans may engage with state-level stakeholders and policy makers to update teacher certification policies or other policies related to BPC at the K-12 level.

 

 

Resources for Recruiting Students

The following resources focus on recruiting prospective undergraduate and graduate students. Related resources for Expanding Research Opportunities can also play an important role in recruiting prospective graduate students.

Prospective Undergraduate Students:

Prospective Graduate Students:

 

 

Resources for Expanding Research Opportunities

Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REUs) students who are underrepresented in computing are a long-term strategy for BPC among graduate students and faculty. Additionally, REU experiences can be a recruiting tool for graduate programs and help students gain important skills and mentorship that can be helpful to them in pursuing a computing degree. Research has shown that REU experiences can increase students’ confidence and their interest in pursuing a PhD (Russell et al., 2007).