Undergraduate hub of NCWIT
The University of California at Irvine – led by the Ada Byron Research Center for Diversity in Computing and Information Technology (ABRC) -- is one of seven National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) hubs that consist of academic institutions, industry initiatives, professional groups, and other organizations.
NCWIT's overarching goal of parity in the professional information technology workforce is closely aligned with ABRC’s goal of parity in computer sciences and information technology education for underserved populations.
More specifically, our overarching goal as a NCWIT hub is systemic change of undergraduate education in information technology (not limited to computer science) so that more women are inclined to participate.
This involves changing the curriculum and the way it is delivered at multiple institutions. One step is to identify practices in undergraduate education that have been shown effective at achieving higher recruitment and retention of women at one or more institutions. Such an intervention may not work at all institutions.
A key step in replicating effective practices is an understanding of an institution’s current environment/context, and determining what must change, what intervention will have a positive impact.
Our initial focus is locally, at the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (Bren School) at the University of California Irvine (UCIrvine), where we can explore and evaluate practices as well as means of determining what change is needed.
We developed an initial survey for current Bren School undergraduate students, in consultation with NCWIT social scientists. The survey sought student perceptions about past motivators and the current environment with a focus on recruitment and retention. We collected an initial set of survey responses during summer session 2005 and have completed data entry.
We continue data analysis in collaboration with the NCWIT social scientists; at least one publication based on this initial data set is anticipated. Based on preliminary analysis, we collaborated with NCWIT social scientists to modify and field tested a second version of the survey with the aim of creating a web-based survey for more general use. We intend to then make this tool available for national use.
We completed a prototype collaborative workspace ('wiki'). This workspace is designed to support the NCWIT community’s dialog around promising and effective practices in undergraduate education, not only regarding experience with implementing such practices – i.e., what worked for some and what didn’t - but also how one might replicate an effective practice.
The prototype includes means to easily enter text, track comments and suggestions about practices as well as link to materials in the NEEDS.org digital library. We continue development of the prototype with the additional aim of informing design requirements for a more generalized NCWIT collaborative workspace for a broader set of collaborative dialogs in other arenas.