LMU Professor Wins Grant to Examine Computer Science Equity

SEAVER | An LMU mathematics professor will lead a National Science Foundation-funded study of computer science equity and student success, announced Kathleen Weaver, associate provost for research, professional development, and online learning. The project aims lay the groundwork for universities to develop and promote policies, curricular changes and support programs that address and correct the inequities in the field.

Anna Bargagliotti, of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, will serve as principal  investigator of the four-institution study titled “Collaborative Research: Equity of Access to Computer Science: Factors Impacting the Characteristics and Success of Undergraduate CS Majors.” The total award for the study is $1,327,208, with LMU’s portion totaling $343,956 over the three years of the project.

“Research is needed to examine application, admissions and retention data in order to provide a clear picture of how students of varying demographics and pre-college preparation are present in the CS pipeline,” Bargagliotti said. “This study fills this important gap in the research on factors that impact the flow of students into and through the CS major.”

The study will make a 10-year longitudinal examination of four public and private institutions to understand the promotion and retention of computer science students across three different points in students’ educational experiences: Who applies to the computer science major and are applicants’ characteristics changing over time? Who is admitted to and enrolled in the computer science major? And what are the differences between students who succeed in computer science and those who do not? Because the data set for the study covers applications and enrollments from 2013-23, the study may be able to uncover any affects the COVID-19 pandemic had on applications across demographic groups.

The other collaborating principal investigators are: Cassandra Guarino of UC Riverside, Christine Alvarado of UC San Diego, and Jelena Trajkovic of California State University, Long Beach. Bargagliotti, as lead investigator, will manage and house the quantitative data and co-lead and perform the quantitative analysis.

“This is an exciting study that will examine student admission and persistence data across public and private institutions,” Weaver said. “This grant is a great example of the importance LMU faculty put on equity and student success.”