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NCWIT: 101 – Introduction to Diversifying Undergraduate Computing Programs

Org: National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)


NCWIT is a non-profit community that convenes, equips, and unites change leader organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women — at the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and disability status — in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.

This self-guided course is designed for computing and information technology faculty and administrators who are beginning work on diversifying undergraduate computing programs or are trying to reignite existing initiatives.

In this course, you will learn from NCWIT social scientists and others from partner organizations, and from faculty and administrators who have implemented successful initiatives. At the end of the course, you’ll have a concrete plan for implementing doable recruitment and retention strategies, including some evaluation mechanisms that will help you grow your work.

Time commitment will vary by level of involvement. Estimated Time to Complete Modules (~30 hours):

  • Module 1: 4 hours
  • Module 2: 6 hours
  • Module 3: 6 hours
  • Module 4: 8 hours
  • Module 5: 4 hours
  • + Tying it all together 2-5 hours
You can do the entire course or choose particular modules. We recommend completing the work with your team for the most impact.
This course is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (1525652, 1725018).

How to use this Activity in your Project BPC Plan:

Not sure how to use this activity in your Project BPC Plan? Once you customize the red text, this activity should fit the checklist for Project BPC Plans. Disclaimer: Using this text in your Project Plan does not guarantee NSF approval of your BPC Plan.

Interested in this activity for your Departmental BPC Plan? Summarize the content below to fit the checklist for Departmental BPC Plans. Disclaimer: Using this text in your Departmental Plan does not guarantee BPCnet Verification of your BPC Plan.

If you intend to use this activity in your BPC Plan (Departmental or Project), be sure to submit the Program Interest form, found at the bottom of the page, so this organization is aware of your intended participation.

1. Context & Goals

Goal: The self-paced course will help the project team, and colleagues in the department,  understand how underrepresentation of certain groups in computing occurs, how to make both individual- and departmental-level changes to increase the representation of historically marginalized groups in computing and ensure the classrooms, labs, and overall department are welcoming and inclusive places.  The project team will participate in the majority of meetings and will complete all “assignments” within the course. 

Activity Motivation: The project leadership for this activity does not have extensive prior BPC experience, but is interested in contributing to BPC. The NCWIT 101 course will provide the project team with the foundational knowledge they need to broaden participation in computing in their departments, within their sphere of influence. 

2. Intended Population

Activity Participants: All PIs and graduate students funded on the project. 

Participant Recruitment: PIs will invite other departmental faculty and staff to participate, but the PIs and graduate students are the intended participants. 

3. Strategy

Activity Content: By the end of the first year, the participants will complete the self-paced 16-hour course “NCWIT 101: Introduction to Diversifying Undergraduate Computing Programs.”  The participants will meet 6 times during the year to discuss each  module in the course. Modules all have “homework” (such as collecting enrollment data in the major by demographic) which will be distributed equally amongst the PIs and then discussed.  Year 1 will include going through the modules as a team. Year 2 will include deciding on a focus for BPC activities that suit the project team’s time availability and sphere of influence. Year 3 will be implementation of an agreed-upon intervention with basic evaluation of preliminary results.

Activity Budget: Year 1 is cost-free. Years 2 and 3 may have costs, depending on the goals and strategies the team decides upon. For example, if redesigning the departmental website is decided upon as a strategy, then a web designer may need to be hired. If faculty recruitment is chosen, then there may be costs associated with advertising in different places. 

Responsibilities of PIs: The PI will coordinate all meetings. The Co-PIs will participate fully and lead the discussion of an individual course module.

4. Preparation

The participants will be able to follow the structure of the course and meet regularly at a schedule that suits their team.  

5. Evaluation

In Year 1, the PI will document attendance at each meeting and self-reports from participants, including reflections on the course and the completion of each module’s tasks. The fifth module of the course provides a way to evaluate the BPC activities the team decides to do upon completion of the course. Thus evaluation activities such as departmental student data collection, surveys, observations, or interviews can take place in Years 2 and 3 and will assess the effectiveness of the BPC activities the team has chosen for their context. Participants will also complete the course evaluation to provide feedback to NCWIT.  Evaluation results will be reported in each annual NSF report. 

Departmental, Partnering

Intended Level(s)
Early Career, Graduate, High School, Mid Career, Undergraduate

Intended Population
American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Persons with Disabilities, Women

Program Costs
No Cost

Program Matching Funds Available?

Program Interest Form