May 27, 2004
Through a series of electronic meetings, the PIs discussed all the issues that were raised by the proposal reviewers. Together, we have agreed on these responses based on your recommendations. We appreciate your help throughout this process and welcome additional feedback.
Program Goals: The Scholars of the Future program will address the disproportionate representation of
underrepresented students at the graduate level in an effort to increase the number of
underrepresented faculty in information technology disciplines. Auburn University’s Computer Science & Software Engineering Department (CSSE) is a unique environment where minorities and women are represented in unusually high numbers when compared to the national averages. Women make up 36% of the computer science graduate student body. Nationally, women make up 20-25% of computer science graduate students. Additionally, minorities (specifically African Americans) make up 11% of our computer science graduate students. On a national level, African Americans make up 1.1% of all Master’s students and 1.6% of all Ph.D. students in computer science. These numbers represent our success in attracting external graduate students at Auburn University. However, Auburn University does not do a good job of recruiting from within the department. Currently 20% (3 out of 15) of the minority graduate students are Auburn University CSSE graduates. Of those 3 students, 1 worked as a NSF REU student with Dr. Gilbert and Dr. Gilbert recruited the other two students. Therefore, our internal numbers are very low. Overall, 27% of Auburn’s Master students come from Auburn University. At the Ph.D. level, only 6% of the students are Auburn University graduates. Furthermore, Auburn University does a poor job of introducing our undergraduates to research under the supervision of our faculty. Over the course of the past 6 semesters, Auburn University had a total of 5 undergraduate students (1 White female, 2 White males, 1 African American male, and 1 Asian female) involved in research with faculty, which is less than 2% of our students. None of these students were part of the REU Site at Auburn University, http://www.eng.auburn.edu/department/csse/reu2004/. Only 1 of these 5 students was a funded student. The funded student was an African American male that was funded by a REU Supplement as part of Dr. Gilbert’s NSF-ITR: New Approaches to Human Capital Development through Information Technology Research Grant #0296169. The Scholars of the Future program will double these numbers by introducing more of our undergraduates to research using the Scholars of the Future scholarships, independent study credits, and mentoring experiences. Currently, neither the College of Engineering or the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University track computer science undergraduates that go to graduate school. However, initiated by this grant, the CSSE Department has agreed to start collecting this data immediately. All of the undergraduates and graduate students that participate in the Scholars of the Future program will be tracked upon graduation. Their graduate school choices will be closely monitored. If the students attend Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University or any other graduate program, their choices will be documented.
One goal of the Scholars of the Future program is to take a close look at Auburn University’s graduate school model and identify what we are doing to obtain our success. Additionally, the program aims to increase the number of women and minorities entering IT/CS graduate programs by introducing these students to IT/CS research and by providing them with mentors. The impact of this approach will improve Auburn’s internal undergraduate numbers as well as the graduate numbers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Women make up 20% of the graduate students in IT at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. African Americans make up 3% of those students. At the undergraduate level, women make up 11% of the IT students and 6% of the students are African Americans. Given these numbers, the Scholars of the Future program has the goal of increasing the numbers of undergraduate student researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Additionally, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has an undergraduate research symposium each spring called the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research in Computer Science (VTURCS), see http://vturcs.cs.vt.edu/index.html. Dr. Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones is one of the organizers for the VTURCS program. He will work with the PIs on the Scholars of the Future program to create a similar program at Auburn University.
Responses to Questions/Concerns Raised by the Review Panel:
1. Need to decide whether to focus on minorities and/or women…You quote % graduating as underrepresented groups, need to split these apart, clarify.
We will focus on both women and minority students (underrepresented groups). Therefore, we will send students (both male and female) to Grace Hopper in Year 3.
I have been granted support from my department chair on this program. He wrote a letter of support, which was included in the proposal. I also have support from other faculty members (Cheryl Seals, Gerry Dozier, Richard Chapman, Kai Chang, James Cross, Saad Biaz and others) in the CSSE department.
3. Recruitment method must not be exclusionary, see DMP. The mission of the Scholars of the Future program is to increase the number of underrepresented faculty in information technology disciplines by addressing the disproportionate representation of underrepresented students at the graduate level.
Building on the diversity that exists in all students, the Scholars of the Future program strives to recruit any student that meets the academic requirements of the program and has an interest in pursuing graduate work and conducting scholarly research in IT disciplines. All students that meet the academic standards/criteria are encouraged to apply and participate in the Scholars of the Future program. Each applicant will be required to write a 1-page essay describing how her/his selection will add to the Scholars of the Future program.
4. How can you demonstrate that these 8 students per year are above and beyond the number Auburn would normally recruit?
Using data from the past 6 semesters, at Auburn University there were 5 undergraduate students that participated in research with faculty. If this trend continues Auburn University would get 3 undergraduate students per year doing research with faculty. With the introduction of the Scholars of the Future program, we will more than double that number in the first year yielding a total of 11 students doing research with faculty (i.e., 8 from the Scholars of the Future program and 3 from existing efforts). In the following years, we expect that Auburn University will have a total of 11 undergraduate students doing research with faculty, 8 from the Scholars of the Future program, and 3 from existing department efforts. Given these estimates, the Scholars of the Future program has a baseline of 3 undergraduate students doing research per year in the Computer Science & Software Engineering Department at Auburn University. Our program will more than triple the departments’ current efforts.
5. Do mentors, graduate or faculty, have to be from underrepresented groups?
No. In fact, we will include White males 1 Hispanic male, several female mentors and research advisors. Additionally, we will have significant involvement from graduate students that are from underrepresented groups serving as mentors.
6. What are the relevant figures on Auburn University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University recruiting students from underrepresented groups?
Data are presented below in Table 1.
Relevant Figures on Auburn University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
7. Can you average for feedback loop in program evaluation so program can be tweaked year 2 onwards?
Consistent with program evaluation standards and related research (Caracelli & Greene, 1989; Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 1994; Worthen, Sanders, & Fitzpatrick, 1997), all data collected during each phase of the program evaluation and follow-up study will be used to inform all program design decisions, each program implementation method, and every program improvement process.
8. Assessment plans are good, particularly use of qualitative data, face-to-face interviews, etc. We agree. Our evaluation plan includes face-to-face interviews as well as focus groups.
9. You have requested funding for Tapia Symposium but what about Grace Hopper Celebration? We plan to attend Grace Hopper in Year 3. We will send both men and women.
10. Why 3 GRID Nodes? We have removed the GRID Nodes from the budget. We will use standard videoconferencing equipment.
11. May have to reduce faculty budget. Must carefully itemize and justify travel budget Computers - Ohio State justifies 2 computers, where are they? Under supplies? Cannot justify PC's unless to preserve confidentiality.
(Please see the budget page below for itemized travel.) We have reduced the number of students in the program from 10 per year to 8 per year. Travel is requested in the amount of $1,000 per student to attend research conferences (e.g., ACM, IEEE, Tapia, and Grace Hopper). In addition, all PIs have travel requests to accompany the students on their travel and for meetings. The PIs at The Ohio State University and the University of Florida have requested 1 laptop each. The laptops will contain confidential information related to the students, in accordance with the Institutional Review Board (IRB) proposal.
12. Perhaps start small and ramp up at Auburn. In the first year of the program, we will have 8 scholars.
13. Need IT faculty/research involvement at Virginia Tech?
Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science department at Virginia Tech. He is also one of the organizers for the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research in Computer Science (VTURCS), see http://vturcs.cs.vt.edu/index.html. He has agreed to work with the PIs on this grant. Manuel will assist the PIs in creating an undergraduate research symposium at Auburn University in Years 1 and 2. He will also serve as a research advisor and mentor to students. Additionally, the CS department chair from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has given written support for this program, which can be found in the original proposal.
14. Institutional Review Board (IRB) certification. Dr. Flowers has received Institutional Review Board approval from the University of Florida (UF IRB Protocol #2004-U-412) to conduct the program evaluation and follow-up study outlined in the Project Description. The next step is to seek Institutional Review Board approval at Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and The Ohio State University. We expect to have this completed within the next 4-6 weeks.
Summary A significant part of this proposal is evaluation. Drs. Moore and Flowers, two of the PIs who are also leading social scientists, will conduct the multi-level program evaluation. Given the number of students in the Scholars of the Future program and the number of sites involved in the data collection process (Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Conference sites, etc.), two evaluators are required to perform the technical research operations delineated in the program evaluation plan (see Figure 1).
Additional Information: Dr. Watford is an Associate Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering, an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Office the Minority Engineering Programs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She will serve as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Scholars of the Future program contact as Dr. Gilbert serves at Auburn University. She will serve as a mentor, facilitate undergraduate student payments, organize seminars, and lead student meetings. Her experience in working with programs involving women and minorities is extensive and will be a valuable component of the Scholars of the Future program.
Dr. Gilbert will serve as the Scholars of the Future program contact at Auburn University. He will oversee all aspects of the program.
Program Evaluation and Follow-Up Study: Number of Participants Each Year
Change of Scope: The revised budget has modifications in the following areas:
We reduced the number of undergraduate scholars from 10 per year to 8.
We reduced the PI’s summer salary budgets to 1 summer month each.
We removed the Access GRID Nodes.
We decided to pay the undergraduate scholars $1,000 scholarship versus hourly stipends.
We added Dr. Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones to the budget as a consultant.
Although these modifications result in significant budget cuts, we are not sacrificing the quality of the program. By reducing the number of students from 10 to 8 and paying the scholarships (which avoids indirect costs), we are able to significantly reduce the budget and still produce a high-quality program. Additionally, the PI’s have reduced their summer release time from 2 summer months to 1 month. The PI’s are committed to this program; thus, the reduction in summer release time will not result in a reduction in program quality.