The University of South Florida (USF) together with Hillsborough Community College (HCC) proposes a series of coordinated programs designed to broaden the participation of Hispanic as well as other underrepresented minority students in computing. The proposed programs will establish the educational pathway and provide the support that students need to make successful transitions at critical points in their educational journey from the community college to the baccalaureate level and from the baccalaureate to the graduate level. The programs are built upon the strengths of the partnering institutions: HCC?s successful personalized advising, mentoring, and tracking initiatives and USF?s research experience with undergraduates are utilized as recruiting, retention, and enhancement tools. A personalized advising service and two summer programs combining research and academic courses are proposed to recruit, retain, and prepare community college students on their path toward 4-yr universities. The advising service will track students very closely to make sure they take and continue in the chosen path. The academic courses, with an important programming and math component, will allow the transfer students to meet the academic requirements for admission to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at USF. The research component will pave the way for them to participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs later on. These summer programs will be designed and implemented by USF and HCC professors, creating a new learning community that will extend to HCC classrooms on a permanent basis. USF?s REU programs for juniors and seniors will be utilized to help transfer students graduate and prepare them for graduate school and the work force. These research programs are also meant to create a learning community among these students, and the graduate students and professors at USF.

Project Report

CSTEP is a 3-year collaborative demonstration project involving the University of South Florida (USF) and Hillsborough Community College (HCC), both located in Tampa, Florida. The primary goal of CSTEP was to create a model to increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation rate of minority students in Computer Science. Thus, CSTEP was designed to bridge students from community colleges to Computer Science programs in 4-year universities and graduate schools. The project consisted of a series of coordinated programs designed to broaden the participation of Hispanics and other underrepresented minority students in Computer Science. These programs included the development of Personal Transition and Development Plans to establish career paths for the students, a Personalized advising service to monitor and advise students on a continuous basis, a Tutoring service to help students in their core courses, and two summer programs, Summer Programs I and II, which included social, academic, and research activities as follows: Academic courses: COP 2510: Programming Concepts, CDA 3103: Computer Organization and COP 3514: Program Design. These are "gate" courses to be admitted to the department of Computer Science at USF Integration with summer REU program: CSTEP students participate in the social and research activities of the REU program Leadership and personal enhancement activities: attendance to seminars and workshops The grant included funds to grant 10 CSTEP Scholarships for Minority Participation in Computer Science for HCC students to participate in Summer Program I and 10 more for Summer Program II per year. Based on survey data, project documentation, procedures, and dissemination efforts, the project met its intended goals. The project met Goal 1, "to increase the enrollment of HCCminority students in computer science programs," with a cumulative enrollment of 43 students with a majority representing underrepresented backgrounds. Further, the project facilitated the transition of participating students to the USF’s program in computer science to meet Goal 2, "to bridge HCC students to USF". At the conclusion of the project, a total of 24 students made the official transfer to USF, including two students transitioning into graduate school –which in turn, contributed to meeting Goal 3, "to bridge student participation to graduate programs". Prior to CSTEP, very few students new about computer science and actually transferred to USF. For example, only 2, 8, and 2 students transferred from HCC to USF in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively. As CSTEP started to be known and enrolled and transferred HCC students to USF, the number of transferred students increased. For example, 13 students transferred in 2010, 10 in 2011 (3 of which were CSTEP students), and 35 in 2012 (13 of which were CSTEP students). Concurrently, student survey data suggested a high level of satisfaction with project activities and recognition of related benefits, with special emphasis on the potential to transfer to USF and student interactions. Institutionally speaking, CSTEP established internal procedures in HCC and USF to advise and transfer future students, so CSTEP can continue beyond this project. HCC advisors have precise information for those students who want to transfer to USF. In particular, advising at HCC knows very well the sequence of courses that the students need to take while at HCC to successfully transfer to USF. Also, they have very specific information about transfer submission deadlines, required documents, immunizations, etc. Similarly, at USF these procedures are very well known. Also, if HCC students want to take the summer classes at USF to follow the CSTEP program, they can do so with the appropriate recommendation of the advisors at HCC and USF.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Janice E. Cuny
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University of South Florida
United States
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