Practices

Overview

Overview

CAHSI's focus and direction are both aimed at furthering Hispanics in computing. Our practices; CS0, PLTL, ARG, Development Workshops, Lecture Series, Poster Sessions, and our Mentoring Initiatives  serve both faculty and students in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of both their academic and post-collegiate careers.

K-12

CAHSI ‘s efforts towards supporting a healthy pipeline through K-12 outreach have increased in various CAHSI Institutions. According to the CAHSI Evaluation Report 2014, all of the CAHSI schools participated in some form of outreach work that built on CAHSI initiatives, primarily CS0, to deliver computing content to K-12 audiences. Collaborations in conjunction with other organizations will be essential to continue make a big impact.

CSO

The CS0 effort focuses on adoption of pre-CS, a three-unit course that uses graphics and animation to engage and prepares students who have no prior experience in computing. Students are provided with an opportunity to learn the basics of programming concepts and to develop problem solving and systemic reasoning skills, while becoming familiar with a programming environment. Such CS0 courses can serve as a recruitment and motivational tool to attract students who are taking a computer science course as one of their science or general studies electives.

PLTL

PLTL utilizes student-driven discussion groups that engage six to eight students in learning key CS concepts under the guidance of a peer leader. A proven strategy for retention, PLTL provides an active learning experience for students and creates leadership roles for undergraduates. PLTL in “gatekeeper” courses aims to increase student retention in the major by providing near-peer role models to boost their confidence and knowledge. The evaluation of PLTL consisted of surveys distributed to all enrolled students and peer leaders to assess the impact of PLTL on students’ confidence, aspirations, and computing abilities. Overall, students have found the PLTL sessions to be fun, interesting, and helpful. Students gained confidence in their computing abilities through PLTL sessions. PLTL was also beneficial for the peer leaders themselves. Being a peer leader increased students’ communication, teaching, leadership, and interpersonal skills, and enhanced their disciplinary and conceptual knowledge. Hispanics had slightly better gains in skills than other peer leaders. Students’ experiences as peer leaders also increased their aspirations to have a computing career and, to a lesser extent, their aspirations to attend graduate school in computing. Peer leading had a more positive influence on the aspirations of women and Hispanics.

Affinity Research Group (ARG)

The Affinity Research Group (ARG) model emphasizes the development of student research skills and those required for cooperative work. The ARG model provides both undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to learn, use, and integrate the knowledge and skills that are required for research with those required for cooperative work. The existing course focuses on three fundamental aspects that have been identified to contribute to success of undergraduate research: research methods, experimentation and validation, and technical writing and presentations. The undergraduate research intervention addresses the causes associated with the retention and advancement of students into graduate school. It is well documented that undergraduate research experiences motivate students to pursue graduate studies, and it develops research skills that can help them to be successful in graduate studies. The ARG model incorporates mechanisms that address persistence, a critical characteristic for academic success. For example, it provides opportunities for faculty and students to interact outside the classroom; engages students as role models for each other; fosters a “student culture” in which students can interact with each other and discuss issues in a competent manner; helps students clarify and maintain goals; and involves students in their college-learning experience. Through experiences gained in research groups and research courses, students are connected with role models, students interact with faculty outside the classroom, students develop oral and written communication skills, and students hone their technical and research skills. As a result, they will be better qualified and motivated to pursue graduate studies.

FELLOW-NET

CAHSI views the opportunity for student fellowships and scholarships as a powerful resource in attracting quality students into graduate studies toward a doctorate. As awardees of highly competitive fellowships and scholarships, students have the advantage to be introduced to research early in their career so that they can become valued graduates for faculty positions once they obtain their Ph.D. Our strategy is to make students aware early in their studies about the essential elements of a successful packet for a competitive fellowship and to ensure that students engage in activities that ultimately improve the prospects of a successful outcome. The CAHSI Fellow-Net Workshop guides students on how to prepare competitive applications through hands-on activities and critical review of successful and unsuccessful fellowship packets. Students listen to testimonials from applicants who were successful. Through the support of the CAHSI Fellow-Net program, CAHSI students have successfully received awards from various fellowships from different agencies and organizations.

MENTOR-GRAD

Mentor-Grad is an initiative designed to engage undergraduates in experiences and activities that prepare them for success in graduate studies and onto the professoriate. This initiative follows the Fem Prof model, a collaborative initiative between the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and the University of Houston - Downtown. Mentor-Grad provides the same benefits to students as ARG as well as college navigation. Originally, CAHSI started with 20 mentor-grad students among the CAHSI institutions and has dramatically increased to 150 students per year; not counting the students who do not attend our conferences.

Development Workshops

Development Workshops build on successful professional development workshops,  poster
sessions and lecture series.  The primary venues for the workshops will be at CAHSI annual meetings and other well established
conferences such as Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing and SACNAS. Topics to be
addressed include a description of the faculty search process, interview techniques, salary negotiations,
housing and other pertinent topics. The following targeted workshops will be conducted at a minimum of
five times per year in different venues:

  • The Doctoral Careers workshop addresses academic, government and industry opportunities that exist for Ph.D.’s in Computing. The focus is to highlight how the computing discipline is a serviceprofession that provides solutions to problems and challenges in many different domains.
  • The Financial Concerns workshop covers funding opportunities available to graduates and undergraduates. Scholarships, grants and loans are covered with the help of financial aid information. Graduate research assistantships and teaching assistantships are discussed.
  • The Industry Internships and Fellowships workshop discusses undergraduate and graduate internships that are available through the Inroads program and others that attempt to place students with companies who are very interested in finding Hispanic computing majors.
  • The Leadership workshop covers the meaning and significance of leadership, especially for Hispanics in computing sciences. Opportunities for leadership roles will be discussed.
K-12

CAHSI ‘s efforts towards supporting a healthy pipeline through K-12 outreach have increased in various CAHSI Institutions. According to the CAHSI Evaluation Report 2014, all of the CAHSI schools participated in some form of outreach work that built on CAHSI initiatives, primarily CS0, to deliver computing content to K-12 audiences. Collaborations in conjunction with other organizations will be essential to continue make a big impact.

Overview

Involving K-12 students in outreach that includes significant computing content is critical for increasing the number of new students who study computing. CAHSI has aligned its K-12 initiatives with other programs and serves as a mechanism to share expertise and experiences with other institutions and organizations.

An Hour of Code

CAHSI participates in a nationwide effort titled "An Hour of Code" to promote programming. During Computer Science Education week, each institution organizes an event that reaches out to elementary school, high school, and college students. The activities involved teaching students one hour of code through different tools such as Scratch, or app inventor, providing presentations about research, and promoting computer science via the media.

Aspirations in Computing

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been collaborating with NMSU in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing regional celebration that honors young women at the high school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. The competition is open to a broad set of counties around El Paso and Las Cruces. Female high school interns also work research labs through UTEP’s College of Engineering’s Nexus Program.
In the island of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Celebration of Women in Computing (CCWiC) celebrates the accomplishments of women from academia, industry, university, and high school in computing and related areas in an annual meeting. Award recipients of the Award for Aspirations in Computing are recognized at this event.

The Computer Science Collaboration Project (CSCP)

The Computer Science Collaboration Project uses the most successful elements of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) to connect the various alliances and K-12 outreach organizations that are part of the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) community, specifically focusing on outreach to and collaboration with persons with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and women. NMSU and UTEP have aligned its K-12 initiatives with other programs, by sharing expertise, leveraging resources, and developing joint events. NMSU CAHSI representatives are part of the leadership team of the Engaging Latino/a Students branch of CSCP.

The Young Women in Computing (YWiC) Program

New Mexico State University (NMSU), under the direction of Dr. Enrico Pontelli, is a leader in K-12 outreach efforts. The Young Women in Computing (YWiC) outreach program has more than doubled the numbers of young women going into computer science at NMSU. “In the last 8 years we have reached out to more than 7,000 students,” said Rebecca Galves, program coordinator. “Just 250 in summer camps and more than 60 percent are going into STEM fields. Our own enrollment in computer science at NMSU has gone from 8 percent women to 23 percent.

The Young Women in Computing program (YWiC) is an outreach initiative developed with the vision to increase the participation in computer science (CS) activities and exposure for all students in New Mexico, but particularly young women. YWiC is housed in the Department of Computer Science at New Mexico State University, and focuses on multidimensional program components such as in-school presentations, after-school programming, summer programs, state-wide competitions, social networking, forums and conferences, plus teacher-program collaborations that leverage available resources.
YWiC serves as a regional leader in CS outreach by providing informal learning programs to K-12 students and teachers. The goals for YWiC include:

  • Increase the number of young women being exposed to CS through initiatives geared towards introducing computing in fun and interactive ways.
  • Increase the number of women in college CS programs.
  • Provide a space to develop mentor-mentee connections in support of young women discovering more about careers in CS.
  • Disseminate exemplary practices for recruiting more young women into CS and STEM fields.

Based on the success of the program, a new expansion has been approved with presidential award funds. The program titled “Young Women Growing Up Thinking Computationally (YO-GUTC)” focuses on activities that explore different aspects of computing, such as robotics programs, coding concepts, app development and interactive development environments to create video games, stories, animated movies and more. It also has a special focus on Hispanic girls.

K-12 Contacts

Enrico Pontelli (NMSU)
Regents Professor and Interim Associate Dean
College of Arts and Sciences
New Mexico State University, SH 123A
Las Cruces, NM, 88003
http://artsci.nmsu.edu/en/staff/dr-enrico-pontelli
Office: (757) 646-6239
epontell@cs.nmsu.edu

Nayda G. Santiago (UPRM)
Associate Professor
Electrical and Computer Engr. Dept.
Stefani Bldg. Rm. 413
University of PR – Mayaguez, Call Box 9000,
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico 00681
http://www.ece.uprm.edu/~nayda/
Office: (787)832-4040 x-3082
Fax: (787)831-7564
naydag.santiago@upr.edu

Martine Ceberio (UTEP)
Associate Professor
Computer Science Department
University of Texas at El Paso
Chemistry and Computer Science Bldg. Rm 3.0406
El Paso, TX, 79968-0518
http://www.martineceberio.fr/
Office: (915) 747-6950
Fax; (915) 747-5030
mceberio@utep.edu

CS0

Computer Science Zero (CS-0) is a three-unit introductory computing course designed to recruit and better prepare students to complete a degree in Computer Science. Course objectives are to increase student familiarity with computing concepts while providing confidence and motivation for pursuing a CS major. The CS-0 initiative is realized differently at each institution, which permits comparative analysis of methods and generates ideas for customizing or adapting the course at other universities.

Generally speaking, students with little to no prior background in computing enroll in the course. They learn the basics of programming concepts and develop problem solving and systematic reasoning skills while becoming familiar with a programming environment [Beheshti et al. 2008; Freudenthal et al. 2008; Thiry et al. 2008].

Overview

The CS0 effort focuses on adoption of pre-CS, a three-unit course that uses graphics and animation to engage and prepares students who have no prior experience in computing. Students are provided with an opportunity to learn the basics of programming concepts and to develop problem solving and systemic reasoning skills, while becoming familiar with a programming environment. Such CS0 courses can serve as a recruitment and motivational tool to attract students who are taking a computer science course as one of their science or general studies electives.

A CS0 course can:

  • be fun and engaging,
  • introduce students to programming,
  • teach skills vital for success in a CS/STEM discipline, and
  • assist with career choices, including recruitment into CS/STEM disciplines.

A wide variety of introductory programs have been developed. While they each introduce students to some component of "computer science," they are not interchangeable. For example, some:

  • teach how to assemble a computer,
  • teach how to use "office automation" programs,
  • teach how to construct or modify programs,
  • survey types of careers or provide experience assessing application needs,
  • focus on the production of multimedia or programming of robots,
  • make discrete math and common algorithms tangible activities that don't require devices, and
  • use programming to reinforce understandings of math and physics.
CSO Resources

You can review the list of available CS0 sites and modules below:

Sites
Modules

Analysis of time complexity
Course Type: Data Structures and Algorithms
Language: Python2
Length: 80 min
Institutions: University of Texas at El Paso
Moderator: Dr. Eric Freudenthal
Number of Students: 25
Audience: Undergraduate

Drawing lines as progressive steps
Course Type: Computational
Language: Python
Length: Expected 1 to 2 weeks
Institutions: University of Texas at El Paso
Moderator: Dr. Eric Freudenthal
Number of Students: 20
Audience: Undergraduate
Handout: Drawing lines in progressive steps Skill Assessment for Row and Step.pdf
Additional Handout: Drawing Lines as progressive steps Activities.pdf

Programming a simulated treasure hunt
Course Type: Introduction to Computer Science
Language: Python
Length: 50 min
Institutions: University of Texas at El Paso
Moderator: Dr. Eric Freudenthal
Number of Students: 25
Audience: Undergraduate
Additional Handout: Programming a simulated treasure hunt.pdf

Relational Operators
Course Type: Elementary Data Structures and Algorithms
Language: Python
Length: 50 min
Institutions: University of Texas at El Paso
Moderator: Dr. Eric Freudenthal
Number of Students: 20
Audience: Undergraduate
Additional Handout: Relational operators.pdf

CS0 History
CS-0 SPARKS INTEREST IN COMPUTATION
"We were first taught the Jython language, and coming to the end of the semester we were introduced to Java. The transition was very easy to grasp"

IMPACT is a project developed by Dr. Eric Freudenthal and Kay Roy at the University of Texas at El Paso. This version of CS-0 uses the free educational version of python, called Jython or JES. Students in this course program algebraic equations and concepts using physics examples to give depth and visualization to their assignments. An express goal of this CS-0 course is to support pre-calculus students with the mathematical and physics-related content they need to complete computing prerequisites.

Studies led by a CAHSI evaluator for the separate CCLI grant have found gains in student perceptions of mathematics such as increase confidence in math, and ability to apply mathematics concepts to real-life problems following CS0.

Currently, IMPACT includes a few weeks of Java instruction near the end of the semester to ease the transition into more difficult programming languages. Initial qualitative results indicate some students find the transition to be easy in fact, for some, Java was easier to learn than Jython was, because they had Jython experience as a basis for understanding computing concepts.

AN INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTING THROUGH MOBILE APPLICATION
DEVELOPMENT (IN-COMMAND)

IN-COMMAND is a three-credit course designed for students with little to no background in computing and with a variety of interests. It excites students to the possibilities of Computer Engineering and Computer Science through showing students development of fun, yet challenging mobile applications that can be deployed to a wide audience. IN-COMMAND capitalizes on the ubiquitous nature of smart-phones, engaging students through a topical technology.

The full version of the course has been developed and taught as a three unit course (CEN1990) at Miami Dade College. CEN1990 was then institutionalized into a full course and become part of the elective block for students of all majors, including Computer Engineering, Computer Engineering Technology, and Computer Science. It will also be scheduled as a dual-enrollment course for high-school students and will be offered during the summer term as a recruitment tool.

CS0 Contact Us

Mohsen Beheshti (CSU-DH)
Chair Computer Science Department
California State University, Dominguez Hills
NSM A-132
1000 East Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747
www.csc.csudh.edu mbeheshti@csudh.edu
Office: (310) 243-3398
Fax: (310) 243-3153
mbeheshti@csudh.edu

Eric Freudenthal (UTEP)
Associate Professor
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: (915)-747-6954 ;
efreudenthal@utep.edu

Leads:
Ann Quiroz Gates, Ph.D., IEEE-CS CSDP
Néstor J. Rodríguez, Ph.D
John D. Fernandez, Ph.D
Mohsen Beheshti, Ph.D.
Malek Adjouadi, Ph.D
Ongard Sirisaengtaksin, Ph.D

PLTL

The PLTL effort is creating and disseminating materials for key CS courses. A proven strategy for retention, PLTL provides an active learning experience for students and creates leadership roles for undergraduates. The PLTL Workshop model engages teams of six to eight students in learning sciences, mathematics and other undergraduate disciplines guided by a peer leader.

Students who have done well in this experience become guides, mentors and workshop peer leaders. For the peer leaders, the experience of working with faculty and guiding their peers through a difficult course is rewarding. This facilitation can take many forms using various techniques for problem solving, offering timely assistance when a group is stuck, and providing guidance and encouragement.

The PLTL effort supports academic performance and retention in the gatekeeper courses. For computer science the first three introductory courses are “gatekeeper courses,” i.e., the courses that cause many students to fail or drop-out of the courses and possibly the major. Another gatekeeper course is Discrete Math. Among the significant reasons for failure are lack of preparation and lack of support inside and outside the classroom. PLTL validates students as capable persons who belong at the university and enhances the likelihood of academic success.

Across a variety of institutions, disciplines, and course levels, groups of students using peer-led workshops earned higher grades than their counterparts in non-workshop courses. The PLTL project’s student performance assessment is deliberately based on grades, comparing the performance of groups of students with and without PLTL workshops. In a PLTL study, 81% of the students surveyed agreed that interacting with the workshop leader increased their understanding of the subject, while 91% of the peer leaders surveyed stated that acting as a workshop leader increased their understanding of the subject, as well.

The lead institutions are NMSU and UHD. Participating institutions are CSU-DH, UTEP, and TAMU-CC. The lead institutions are working together to develop a train-the-trainers workshop and activity materials for peer sessions. A representative from the adopting institutions will attend the 2-day train-the-trainers workshop, and return to their home institution to train the student peer leaders.

PLTL Lesson Plan

PLTL is being used in a number of different classes at CAHSI institutions. The links below document PLTL sessions.

CS 1401: Introduction to Computer Science

Algorithms

Each group will come up with an algorithm for getting a “robot” to reach a predetermined location. The algorithm will be given to a different group to verify that it works. The student chosen to be the "robot" will be blindfolded. The robot will follow the instructions as indicated by the team. If the instructions given are not correct, the group that designed the algorithm will need to revise their algorithm and try again.

Elementary Programming

Create three short java programs that involve user input, data types and variable manipulation.

a. Use of the primitive data type double to compute area and perimeter of a rectangle.

b. Use of the primitive data type int and multiplication operator to find the product of two numbers.

c. Manipulate several String variables to output a person’s full name.

If-else Statements

Students are provided with a handout that describes the different comparison and logical operators used to test for true or false. Additionally, this handout provides student with the information to know how to handle situations in which strings must be compared. Students within their teams will be given time to discuss comparison and logical operators, as a class they will be required to execute a program that involves if-else statements.

For, while and do-while loops

Create a program to add up numbers sequentially using loops to avoid making every single operation individually. Trace through 5 different types of code involving loops to solve for the output. Every student should be able to develop concise code by making use of the different types of loops to come out with a solution for problems that tend to behave in a repetitive manner.

Arrays and Iterations

The purpose of this activity is to reinforce knowledge on arrays and iterations. Students will be pair and provided with a handout with three problems for them to solve. These problems require logical thinking and the use of both arrays and loops.

Classes and Objects

Practice skills on creation of classes, objects, arrays and methods. Assess the concept of in heritance in Java. The exercises require students to build a class with its respective fields, constructors, setters and getters in order to fully understand the properties of an object.

CS 2401: Elementary Data Structures

Double Dimensional Arrays

Every team is required to implement 4 different methods to:

a. Initialize a new double-dimensional array.

b. Print a given double-dimensional array.

c. Identify whether if the given double-dimensional array is ragged or not.

d. Obtain and return the index of the row which contains the largest sum within the double-dimensional array.

Linked List

Every team is required to implement 3 different methods to:

a. Print a given linked list.

b. Search for an element inside the linked list.

c. Insert an element into a given position in the linked list.

Recursion

Students are assigned 4 problems to be solved both iteratively and recursively. By finding a solution to the problem iteratively, students will learn to transform iterative solutions into recursive methods. The activity involves creating a method to calculate: the factorial of n number, output the Fibonacci numbers, print and search for elements on a linked list.

Midterm Review

Every team is expected to implement different methods that require basic knowledge on both linked list and recursion. Divided in two sections, the first one requires students to develop a solution for problems that test their knowledge on linked list. The second section is based around the most frequent questions asked on a test about recursion and linked list.

Big O Notation

Every team is required to identify the following notations and provide an example for each of them.

O(1) = “Constant Time”

O(n^2) = “Quadratic Time”

O(log n) = “Logarithmic Time”

O(2^n) = “Exponential Time”

O(n) = “Linear Time”

Sorting Algorithms

Students are provided with Bubble Sort and Insertion Sort algorithms for the assignment. Each team is assigned an array of numbers set at random order. According to their sorting algorithm, each team must describe the process of sorting their own array using their own team members in front of the class.

Binary Search Trees

Every team is required to implement 4 different methods using binary search trees that perform the following functions:

a. Print the elements of the binary search tree in-order.

b. Add an element to the binary search tree.

c. Search for an element in the binary search tree.

d. Obtain the minimum value contained in the binary search tree.

Publications

Information coming soon!

PLTL Contacts

Marcelo O. Sztainberg, Ph.D.
Computer Science Department
Associate Professor, Chair
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 N. St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: (773) 442-5946
m-sztainberg@neiu.edu

Ongard Sirisaengtaksin, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences
University of Houston – Downtown
One Main Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 221-8554
Fax: (713) 221-8086
email: ongards@dt.uh.edu

Ann Quiroz Gates, Ph.D., IEEE-CS CSDP
Director Cyber-ShARE Center of Excellence
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.5480; +1.915.747.7689 (direct)
Fax: +1.915.747.5030
agates@utep.edu

Claudia Casas, M.S.C.S.
CAHSI Project Manager
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.7958
ccasas@utep.edu

ARG
Developing the Student Researcher

The Affinity Research Group (ARG) model emphasizes the development of student research skills and those required for cooperative work. The ARG model provides both undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to learn, use, and integrate the knowledge and skills that are required for research with those required for cooperative work. The existing course focuses on three fundamental aspects that have been identified to contribute to success of undergraduate research: research methods, experimentation and validation, and technical writing and presentations.

The undergraduate research intervention addresses the causes associated with the retention and advancement of students into graduate school. It is well documented that undergraduate research experiences motivate students to pursue graduate studies, and it develops research skills that can help them to be successful in graduate studies. The ARG model incorporates mechanisms that address persistence, a critical characteristic for academic success. For example, it provides opportunities for faculty and students to interact outside the classroom; engages students as role models for each other; fosters a “student culture” in which students can interact with each other and discuss issues in a competent manner; helps students clarify and maintain goals; and involves students in their college-learning experience. Through experiences gained in research groups and research courses, students are connected with role models, students interact with faculty outside the classroom, students develop oral and written communication skills, and students hone their technical and research skills. As a result, they will be better qualified and motivated to pursue graduate studies.

* ARG receives additional NSF funding from DUE 0443061 and DUE 0920300.

Overview

The Affinity Research Group (ARG) model provides students with opportunities to learn, use, and integrate the knowledge and skills that are required for research with those required for cooperative work.
To learn about the ARG model, we suggest that you:

Core Components

The three core components are: the definition of a group’s core ideology; active fostering of student connectedness; and application of deliberate management practices. Through the ARG model, faculty mentors create and sustain a cooperative environment that explicitly develops skills to make students successful in research, academe, and the workforce. As a result, students and faculty, in particular those from underrepresented groups, can reach higher levels of productivity and achievement. Each component is described below.

Core Ideology

Affinity Research Groups adopt a core ideology consisting of two essential components: core values and a sense of purpose that goes beyond reaching the goals of the research project. This philosophy drives decisions and chosen projects. The core values espoused by the ARG model are:

  • Student success. An ARG values the deliberate development of skills in each student to ensure their success.
  • Cooperation. An ARG values cooperation in all interactions, including mutual respect of opinions and ideas of all members, promotive interaction, positive interdependence, and individual accountability.
  • Excellence. An ARG values excellence and strives to achieve it in all its actions.

Student Connectedness

Students build connections among members of the group and to members of the broader discipline or profession through, among other means, the annual orientation and assignment of tasks.

Deliberate Practice of Research, Communication, and Team Skills

Faculty mentors do not assume that students join a research group with the necessary skills to be successful. Skills are taught to and practiced by all team members in an intentional and deliberate manner with management practices that reinforce skills development and promote establishment of cooperative teams. The elements of a cooperative team* are:

  • Positive interdependence: all for one and one for all; each member of the team contributes to the success of the team
  • Promotive interaction: promote each other’s success; criticize ideas without criticizing people
  • Individual accountability: hold each member accountable for contributing his/her share; hold the group accountable for achieving its goals
  • Learning and practicing interpersonal and group skills: need to learn and practice skills such as effective leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-resolution; steps: know how to do it, reflect and refine use, and use automatically
  • Reflection: reflect on how group is functioning; continuously improve

ARG in Action

The ARG model facilitates the development of a community in which faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students learn from each other: research, communication, technical, and team skills. Learning arises from activities that are integrated into regular meetings, day-to-day interaction, and development workshops. Faculty who have received ARG training have access to a variety of development workshops and activities such as the ones listed below.

Development Workshop Samples:

  • The One-Minute Elevator speech: Selling Your Ideas
  • Setting Clear Goals and Objectives
  • Providing and Receiving Constructive Critique
  • Setting Criteria to Evaluate Posters
  • Evaluating Technical Posters
  • Writing a Thesis/Dissertation Proposal
  • Preparing a Competitive Fellowship Packet
  • Preparing a Personal Statement
  • Reading a Technical Paper
  • Building Effective Teams
  • Solid Writing

In addition, students develop research skills throughout the semester by working with the faculty mentor and through their pairing with more experienced student researchers. Click here for a description of a Sample Activity. An example of an activity integrated into a meeting is shown in this short video.

* Johnson, D., Johnson, R., & Smith, K. A. (1991). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

Evaluation

A growing body of evidence supports the notion that undergraduates benefit in substantial ways from participating in authentic scientific research with faculty and graduate student mentors. Recent studies of student outcomes from undergraduate research in STEM fields have empirically identified a range of cognitive, personal, and professional benefits to undergraduate researchers (Carter, Mandell, & Maton 2009; Russell, Hancock, & McCullough 2006; Hathaway, Nagda, & Gregerman 2002).

The effectiveness of undergraduate research can be elucidated by recent scholarship in teaching and learning describing learning as a developmental process (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking 1999; Fosnot & Perry 2005; Kolb 1984). In particular, one theoretical strand supports the notion of learning as a community endeavor through meaningful, authentic participation--the work of Lave and Wenger (1991) is heavily cited for their contribution to the theory of situated cognition/learning. That is, communities of practice operate within the broader theory of situated learning in order to explain the relationship between the individual learner and broader social structures and institutions that influence learning.

A recent qualitative study by the investigators and others (Villa, Kephart, Gates, Thiry, & Hug 2013) focused on past ARG participants. Findings suggested that participation in established ARG groups influenced members' sense of professional identity and shaped their post-graduate experiences. Using situated learning as a theoretical lens for the investigation, researchers found ARG structures and practices of ARGs served to create and build community through a shared purpose, maintain group cohesiveness through project management, and foster connections to broader computer science communities through immersion in situated group practice—aspects corresponding to the definition of a community of practice (Lave 1991; Lave & Wenger 1991). Communities of practice are groups whose members have a common and shared purpose in learning a practice with others with more knowledge, and with each other. Situated learning theory explains the relationship among individual members of the team, including novices and experts, as they gradually increase their participation in meaningful, authentic activity in learning the practice of the community.

In a quantitative study of students who were engaged in ARG on seven CAHSI campuses in the spring and summer of 2008, data were collected using the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) instrument (Hunter, Weston, Laursen & Thiry 2009). The URSSA measures student outcomes in intellectual skills, e.g., critical thinking; technical skills; communication skills; professional socialization; personal gains, e.g., growth in confidence or interest; and preparation for graduate school and STEM careers. These data provide evidence of effectiveness in transferring ARG beyond a single institution. CAHSI data indicated that ARGs are particularly effective in enhancing students’ preparation for graduate school. A comparison study contrasting CAHSI quantitative data with a national sample of undergraduate researchers using the same survey instrument showed that CAHSI ARG students have (1) authored or co-authored journal articles at twice the rate of a large, diverse national sample of REU students (13% compared to 6%), and (2) presented a paper or poster at a national conference at three times the national rate (51% compared to 14%). Note that these differences are statistically significant (journal publication: χ2 (1, N=626)=4.194, p<.05; conference presentation: χ2 (1, N=626)=46.82, p<.001).

References

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (1999). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.

Carter, F. D., Mandell, M., & Maton, K. I. (2009). The influence of on-campus, academic year undergraduate research on STEM Ph. D. outcomes: Evidence from the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 441-462.

Fosnot, C. T., & Perry, R. S. (2005). Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. In C. T. Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice (2nd ed., pp. 8-38). New York: Teachers College Press.

Hathaway, R. S., Nagda, B. R. A., & Gregerman, S. R. (2002). The relationship of undergraduate research participation to graduate and professional education pursuit: an empirical study. Journal of College Student Development, 43(5), 614-31.

Hunter, A-B., Weston, T. J., Laursen, S. L., & Thiry, H. (2009). URSSA: Evaluating student gains from undergraduate research in the sciences. CUR Quarterly, 29(3): 5-19.

Kolb, David A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Lave, J. (1991). Situated learning in communities of practice. In L. Resnick, J. Levine, & S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition (pp. 63-82). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2006). Evaluation of NSF support for undergraduate research opportunities. EVALUATION.

Villa, E., Kephart, K., Gates, A., Thiry, H., & Hug, S. (Summer 2013). Affinity Research Groups in practice: Apprenticing students in research. Journal of Engineering Education.

ARG Resources
Activities

The ARG model facilitates structured activities that develop student members’ technical, communication, research, and cooperative group skills. Students develop research skills throughout the semester by working with the faculty mentor and through their pairing with more experienced student researchers. Below is a sample activity. Please contact us if you would like to contribute an activity of your own.

Development Workshops

Development workshops provide students with opportunities to develop effective research and professional skills. Some examples workshops are provided below:

Orientation

The annual orientation is used to assimilate new students into the research group; to reevaluate, modify, or reaffirm the group’s core purpose; and to facilitate members’ basic understanding of group and research skills through activities in which students practice and discuss these skills. In addition, the orientation explores the concerns of the students and faculty. The aim of this activity is to promote communication and professionalism and foster trust among all group members—both faculty and students—by understanding and appreciating each other’s concerns.

Goals and Objectives

The Goals and Objectives workshop aims to assist attendees in determining and articulating the broad purpose of their proposed project: what the project will accomplish and by when. This will assist them in determining how the project activities and resources will be organized..

Poster Critique

Poster critique workshops provide students and faculty with recommended criteria and guidelines for constructive feedback on research posters.

Solid Writing

The Solid Writing workshop provides students with a few valuable insights into the creation of a credible, readable document.

Planning ARG Activities

The two handouts below guide an ARG adopter in structuring research groups to ensure establishment of a structured cooperative environment, as essential feature of an ARG. Affinity Research Group Model-Planning Document This template guides an ARG mentor in structuring his/her research group as an ARG and requires the ARG Mentor’s Handbook (www.computer.org/portal/web/cspress/arg) as a reference. Major components are core ideology, project management, and skills development. Mentor’s Guide: Deliberate Development of Skills A main feature of ARGs is embedded cooperative learning components. This document guides an ARG mentor in ensuring these components are integrated into the research group structure and group workshops or meetings. It also includes suggestions on monitoring and evaluating your research group. The worksheet template will help you plan a meeting or workshop with a focus on deliberate skills development. Example completed worksheets for different types of meetings are provided below.

Research Course Materials
  • Course materials (Coming Soon)
Research Presentations
Research Writing Tips
Handbook

Affinity Research Group Model - Handbook

The ARG Handbook is a  cooperative learning approach to involving students with diverse backgrounds an effective means of ensuring student engagement.  For a more comprehensive look into the Affinity Research Group Model Handbook visit the IEEE website at:

www.computer.org/portal/web/cspress/arg

ARG Sponsors

Funding Sources

  • NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Agency, PACES, Pan American Center for Earth and Environmental Studies, Grant # NCC5-498
  • NSF, National Science Foundation, Grant # DUE 0443061, DUE 0920300, CNS 0540592, and CNS 0837556 
  • DOE, Department of Energy, Hispanic Collaborative for Research and Education and Technology, Grant # 3-49811-7810
  • SNL, Sandia National Laboratories
  • DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • IEEE, Insititue of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Seed Grant Initiative 2007-2008
  • Texas Workforce Development

Acknowledgements

  • IBM, International Business Machines
  • SGI, Silicon Graphics
  • Sun Microsystems
  • TCG, Technology and Communications Gateway, Inc.
  • GE Faculty for the Future Fellowship Program
  • National Security Agency Fellowship Program
  • Network and Telecommunications Services
  • AMP Summer Bridge Program
  • Baskin Robbins
ARG Contact Us

Ann Quiroz Gates, Ph.D., IEEE-CS CSDP
Director Cyber-ShARE Center of Excellence
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.5480; +1.915.747.7689 (direct)
Fax: +1.915.747.5030
agates@utep.edu

Elsa Villa, M.S, M.A.
Research Assistant Professor
Co-Director Assistant CREATE
College of Engineering
Office of the Dean
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University
El Paso, Texas 79968
Office: 1.915.747.6948
Fax:1.915.747.5616
evilla@utep.edu

FELLOW-NET

CAHSI views the opportunity for student fellowships and scholarships as a powerful resource in attracting quality students into graduate studies toward a doctorate. As awardees of highly competitive fellowships and scholarships, students have the advantage to be introduced to research early in their career and to become valued graduates for faculty positions once they obtain their Ph.D. CAHSI has outlined an initiative that builds from our past experience with several successful applicants. Our strategy is to make students aware early in their studies about the essential elements of a successful packet for a competitive fellowship and to ensure that students engage in activities that ultimately improve the prospects of a successful outcome. The Fellow-Net initiative is strategic in that it begins at least a year prior to the student applying for a fellowship program. Its goal is to have each participating institution help a minimum of two students apply per year to prized fellowships and have at least one funded per institution, resulting on an average of at least 8 successfully funded each year. To reach this lofty goal, strategic steps are considered:

  • Attract well-qualified junior and senior students to work in research labs with both a faculty mentor and a graduate
    student as a peer leader selected to guide and oversee progress of the student.
  • Ensure that a research topic with societal impact is identified in order to secure from the onset the desire and the
    drive of the student to succeed.
  • Work with the student to publish at least two conference papers and submit one journal paper prior to the student
    submitting the fellowship application.
  • Use Paper-Net to obtain preliminary reviews from faculty reviewers.
  • Use CAHSI portal to identify available fellowships (e.g., NSF, NASA, DOD, DHS) and obtain samples of
    successful applications.
  • Provide faculty review and final feedback on fellowship applications (prior to submission) from a preliminary panel
    of faculty members.

Overview

The Fellow-Net initiative strategically begins at least a year prior to the student applying for a fellowship program. The following strategic steps should be considered to assist students in submitting competitive proposals:

  • Attract well-qualified junior and senior students to work in research labs with both a faculty mentor and a graduate student as a peer leader selected to guide and oversee progress of the student.
  • Ensure that a research topic with societal impact is identified in order to secure from the onset the desire and the drive of the student to succeed.
  • Work with the student to publish at least two conference papers and submit one journal paper prior to the student submitting the fellowship application.
  • Define a review process to obtain preliminary reviews from faculty reviewers.
  • Use CAHSI portal to identify available fellowships (e.g., NSF, NASA, DOD, and DHS) and obtain samples of successful applications.
  • Provide faculty review and final feedback on fellowship applications (prior to submission) from a preliminary panel of faculty members.

Figure 1 presents the Fellow-Net lifecycle for managing students who are interested in seeking funding through fellowship applications. Note that the lifecycle is divided into three phases: Phase 1- Eligibility verification and identification of potential applicants; Phase 2- Document review; and Phase 3 – Submission process.

Figure 1.

Fellow-Net Success Stories
Adriana Camacho - University of Texas at El Paso (2015)

NSF GRPF award winner

Curtis Chambers - University of Texas at El Paso (2012)

NSF GRFP honorary mention

Alla Dove - University of Texas at El Paso (2012)

NSF GRPF award winner

Martin Harold - Florida International University (2016)

NSF GRPF award winner

Adrian Ildefonso - University of Puerto Rico (2015)

NSF GRPF award winner

Gabriel Lizarraga - Florida International University (2012)

NSF GRFP honorary mention

GANN Fellowship

Carmen Lozano - University of Texas at El Paso (2012)

LSAMP Award Winner

Marisel Villafañe-Delgado - University of Puerto Rico (2011)

NSF GRPF award winner

Fellow-Net Contacts

Ann Quiroz Gates, Ph.D., IEEE-CS CSDP
Director Cyber-ShARE Center of Excellence
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.5480; +1.915.747.7689 (direct)
Fax: +1.915.747.5030
agates@utep.edu

Claudia Casas, M.S.C.S.
CAHSI Project Manager
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.7958
ccasas@utep.edu

MENTOR-GRAD

The NSF BPC program originally funded FemProf, a CAHSI demonstration project. FemProf is paving the road to professorship for female students. It is a collaborative initiative between the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) and the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). It aims at establishing a model for significantly increasing the number of undergraduate female students that pursue a professorship career in computing.

Although FemProf’s focus is on undergraduate female students, its research mentoring and career development activities are genderless with slight adjustments and broad enough to apply to undergraduate male students. Following the FemProf model, the Mentor-Grad Program was created to prepare Hispanic undergraduates (male and female) for graduate studies with the goal of completing a PHD. Mentor-Grad adopts the main FemProf strategies:

  • Student recruitment
  • Research mentoring
  • Career mentoring
  • Empowerment.
Overview

Undergraduate students may be interested in graduate school, but often, they do not have the opportunity to explore and find one research area for which they are completely passionate. The Mentor-Grad program improves the retention of students by involving them in research experiences at an early stage of their undergraduate path.

A CAHSI faculty mentor supports and guides the student’s advancement and development of research and leadership skills. The mentoring is done on an individual basis, through workshops, and conferences. Although Mentor-Grad focuses on advancing students to graduate school, the research and career mentoring, and empowerment activities also benefit students who decide to pursue a professional career. The Mentor-Grad and FemProf programs involve students who:

  • Enroll in an undergraduate research course in the first year of the program and work on a research project for at least one academic year; or join an Affinity Research group (ARG) for at least one academic year.
  • Are encouraged to spend at least one summer in research internships at other institutions of higher education.
  • Attend a research or career development conference at least once a year.

Mentor-Grad students attend seminars and workshops on:

  • Research skills development (if not in an ARG),
  • Career development to prepare for graduate school and onto the professoriate,
  • Empowerment to help overcome ethnic or gender bias that can preclude students from following a career in academia.
Application Process

The application process for Mentor-Grad and FemProf is open and promoted at each CAHSI member and adopting institution based on available funding. Please contact your CAHSI faculty mentor for additional information.

Students accepted to the program will receive a supplement of $2000 per year and are eligible for travel funding to attend the CAHSI Annual Conference.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Be eligible for financial aid
  • Be a sophomore, junior or senior with CS major
  • Enroll in an undergraduate research course or work on a research project
  • Spend at least one summer in a research internship at a higher education institution
  • Attend a research or career development conference at least once a year
  • Attend research and educational seminars/workshops

Claudia Casas, M.S.C.S.
CAHSI Project Manager
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University CCSB 3.1002
El Paso, Texas 79902
Office: +1.915.747.7958
ccasas@utep.edu