Rorrer, A., Spencer, B., Davis, S., Moghadam, S. H., Holmes, D., & Grainger, C. (2021, March). Understanding immersive research experiences that build community, equity, and inclusion. In Proceedings of the 52nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 149-155).
In this experience report, we describe the rationale and need for immersive research experiences (IREs) in computer science (CS) that are designed to foster an inclusive community that encourages pursuit of graduate education for undergraduate women. Google’s exploreCSR supports institutions across the US to execute IREs in computing throughout the academic year. We describe the program design and framework, the evaluation model, and present outcomes from two years of implementation across 29 institutions, with 1,983 (92% female) student participants collectively. The unique features of the program are that it aligns goals, measurements, and best practices across a national network of hands-on, localized IREs, resulting in peer communities and a sizable sample of undergraduates who identify as women and/or African-American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native/Native American, Hispanic/Latinx, and/or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AAHN). We discuss recommendations for effective IRE programming based on our evaluation and the features found to be particularly salient for AAHN women. The contribution of this work is in describing how a national initiative for IREs builds community and creates conditions known to support the persistence of women in computer science.