Project Description Supported by the National Science Foundation (#2044858), this mixed-methods study examines pathways from community colleges to computing Ph.D. programs, with the larger goal of diversifying the computing professoriate. Utilizing a sample of community college transfer students in computing majors across five research universities, we are empirically testing the efficacy of an intervention to transfer orientation and academic advising developed to foster graduate school intentions. Additionally, we are using longitudinal surveys and interviews to explore other factors that shape key outcomes for upward transfer computing students, focusing on implications for how to advance equity and broaden access to computing graduate programs. We began data collection in Fall 2021 and will continue collecting data through Spring 2024. Please check back for updates and research findings. You can read more about the project here.
Project Update: With support from the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, I will collect additional data from faculty, staff, and administrators to learn more about how upward transfer student experiences intersect with larger structures, policies, and practices. I will collect these data over the 2023-2024 academic year and update this page with findings from the new stream of the project.
Research Team Jennifer Blaney, PI David Feldon, Co-PI Theresa Hernandez, Postdoctoral Scholar Annie Wofford, Collaborator Kaylee Litson, Collaborator
Blaney, J. M. (2023). A feminist phenomenological study of upward transfer women’s computer science identity. Paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
Due to persistent gender inequities in computer science (CS), women’s participation in CS degree programs has received significant research attention, with studies documenting the importance of fostering undergraduate women’s sense of belonging and CS identity. Unfortunately, women who begin their degrees at community colleges are often excluded from this research, despite the important role community college transfer plays in facilitating access to higher education (Bahr et al., 2017; LaSota & Zumeta, 2016). Guided by theories of CS identity (Carlone & Johnson, 2007; Taheri et al., 2019) and STEM upward transfer (Wang, 2020), this feminist phenomenological study centers upward transfer women to address the following: 1) How do upward transfer women in CS describe and make meaning of their identity as a computer scientist? 2) How does their CS identity inform the decisions upward transfer women make about their CS degree trajectories?
Blaney, J. M., & Hernandez, T. E. (2023). An exploration of gendered and racialized transfer structures: Experiences from upward transfer computing students. Paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
This mixed methods study explores how STEM upward transfer students engage with transfer-related structures, policies and practices. Findings document inequities in course-taking patterns and how the common university practice of waitlisting transfer students may result in stratification and harm to students who need to secure affordable housing.
Wofford, A. M., Blaney, J. M. (2023). Community college pathways to graduate study: Examining community cultural wealth among transfer students of color. Paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
Using survey data with upward transfer Students of Color in computer science, we examine students’ community cultural wealth, knowledge sources about graduate school, and how asset-based capitals relate to graduate school-related outcomes. Findings document the important role resistant and aspirational capital may play in shaping upward transfer students’ degree trajectories.
Blaney, J. M., Feldon, D. F., & Litson, K. (2023). Community college pathways to STEM PhDs. Paper presentation at the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.
Efforts to expand access to STEM graduate programs have largely excluded transfer students. Using longitudinal survey data from upward transfer students in computer science, we identify the predictors of PhD interest during students’ first year at their receiving university, paying particular attention to the role of gender in our analyses.
Blaney, J. M., Wofford, A. M., & Feldon, D. F. (2022). Building pathways from community colleges to STEM PhDs: Initial findings from an intervention to foster PhD aspirations at transfer orientation. Paper presentation at the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) Conference, Tempe, AZ.
Community college pathways are critical to diversifying STEM graduate programs. Yet, little is known about how institutions can broaden access to community college pathways to graduate study. Understanding these pathways is especially important in the context of computer science, which represents one of the least diverse STEM fields. Guided by social cognitive career theory, this paper introduces a new intervention designed to pique community college transfer students’ interests in PhD study during transfer orientation. We utilized a pre-test and post-test survey—as well as preliminary comparisons to a control group—to examine our intervention. Findings show that community college transfer students who enter computer science majors bring an interest in PhD study with them, but do not necessarily perceive PhD study as being of high value to their future career and life. Preliminary findings on the efficacy of our intervention suggest that sharing targeted information at transfer orientation may increase students’ perceived value of PhD Study, while also fostering interest in PhD pathways and faculty careers. Implications for how practitioners can implement and expand upon our intervention to foster STEM transfer students’ PhD intentions and faculty interests are discussed.
A more updated version of this paper is currently under review for publication.
Blaney, J. M., Hernandez., T., Feldon, D. F., Wofford, A. M. (2022). Gendered transfer student stigma in computer science: An exploratory look at transfer student receptivity. Paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
While community college transfer (i.e., upward transfer) represents an important mechanism for advancing equity across STEM fields, existing studies of gender and women’s participation within undergraduate computer science have largely excluded the perspectives of upward transfer students. This mixed methods study addresses this gap in the literature by exploring the intersection between transfer student stigma and gender discrimination within computer science. Specifically, we rely on longitudinal survey and interview data from upward transfer computer science majors, collected throughout students’ first year at the receiving university. Findings reveal that, relative to men, upward transfer women report greater experiences of transfer stigma and challenges accessing resources at the receiving university. Qualitative findings document additional nuances in how upward transfer students—especially women—describe resilience as they navigate the university campus, encounter navigation challenges at the university, and make meaning of various manifestations of transfer stigma on campus. We highlight implications for future research, theory, and practice, focusing on what universities can do to foster a more receptive environment for upward transfer women.
A more updated version of this paper is under review for publication.
Blaney, J. M., Hernandez., T., Wofford, A. M., & Feldon, D. F. (2022). “I’m very cognizant of my timeline”: Exploring how upward transfer students conceptualize graduate training trajectories. Paper presentation at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
Developing pathways from community colleges to STEM PhDs is critical to advancing equity and diversifying the STEM professoriate. This phenomenological study utilizes interview data with 18 community college transfer students in computer science to examine how transfer students conceptualize PhD study as part of their academic trajectories.