The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Computer Science undergraduate collaborates with Google to improve interest and retention among Women students

Computer science senior Janette Garcia was selected as one of 15 students from across the United States to collaborate with Google on ways to promote broad interest in computer science among women students. Garcia and other students spent January 14-15, 2016 at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California working together with Google representatives, professors, and non-profit leaders, and to come up with best practices on how to retain students in the field of computer science.

During her time as an Undergraduate, Garcia also started a Google IgniteCS program at UTRGV, an after-school mentoring program to introduce computer science to middle school students.

As part of her efforts, here are her suggestions for some examples of simple interventions that can increase student retention in CS programs:

  • Motivate minority and women students directly via encouraging words.
  • Consider student interests when planning assignments.
  • Always provide feedback on assignments and be accessible to students.
  • Remind students that intellectual capacity is like a muscle, it increases with effort. No one is born with programming skills.

Garcia encourages all computer science faculty at UTRGV to come up with new ways to make courses more welcoming for all students, and to follow the intervention practices above.