Community College Pathways to Computing (CCPC)

Project (NSF ECR grant #19-20670, 2019-2022)

In 2013, the Florida legislature drastically restructured developmental education placement and instruction through Senate Bill 1720. The new law mandates that the 28 state colleges (formerly the community colleges) in the Florida College System (FCS) provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students. This law gives students much more flexibility in deciding whether they need developmental education and how they can go about receiving developmental education instruction. For many students, developmental education and placement tests are now optional regardless of prior academic preparation. In addition, developmental education must now be delivered through a variety of accelerated and co-requisite strategies. The legislation does not mandate the specific programmatic details around each option (it only requires that each option be provided), and therefore allows the individual campuses in the FCS some flexibility in the form and delivery of each option.

Investigator Team: Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner and Dr. Shouping Hu
Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner and Graduate Assistants
Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner and Graduate Assistants

Project Publications

This National Science Foundation-funded research team is investigating women’s pathways to computing degrees in the state of Florida and across the U.S. Women represent 50% of community college attendees who go on to earn science and engineering degrees. However, women represent only 18% of those earning computer science degrees, with similar trends in computing fields more broadly. Computing includes high-growth and high-demand fields such as information technology, computer programming, computer science, and computer engineering. Our aim is to identify and curricular structures and mechanisms that enhance women and girls’ ability to envision themselves as computer scientists, coders, and leaders in computing fields. Led by Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner and Dr. Shouping Hu at Florida State University College of Education and the Center for Postsecondary Success, we are investigating these pathways using state administrative data for Florida and U.S. restricted use nationally representative cohorts. We are particularly interested in how computing momentum is developed and influences community college students’ upward transfer to four-year degrees. We specifically examine community college as an avenue for building this academic momentum and narrowing gender gaps in STEM career choice.

Meet the Team

Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Higher Education and Sociology

Dr. Shouping Hu, Co-Principal Investigator and Louis W. and Elizabeth N. Bender Endowed Professor of Higher Education

Jinjushang (Chena) Chen, Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Psychology

Kristen Erichsen, Graduate Research Assistant, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology

Teng Zhao, Graduate Research Assistant, Ph.D. Candidate in Higher Education

Yang Li, Graduate Research Intern, Ph.D. Student in Higher Education

Advisory Board to Enhance Rigor and Impact

We draw on both a Technical Advisory Board and Broader Impacts Advisory Board given the importance of research informed by policy and practice and designed to generate results, which can contribute to broadening participation in computing and science and technology more broadly, in Florida, the U.S., and beyond.

News and Relevant Links

  • Florida State University news coverage of our work includes radio and TV features on why community college women’s access to computing fields matters.
  • Upcoming paper sessions scheduled at AERA 2020, ASEE 2020

Contact us for more information or to subscribe to our project newsletter

Associated Recent Publications, with * denoting funding support from NSF computing project and ^ denoting past NSF funding support.

^ Perez-Felkner, L., Felkner, J., Nix, S., & Magalhães, M. (2020). The Puzzling Relationship between International Development and Gender Equity: The Case of STEM Postsecondary Education in Cambodia. International Journal of Educational Development 72(1) 1-11doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2019.102102 See related translational article in Elsevier Connect.

^ Nix, S., & Perez-Felkner, L. (2019). Difficulty orientations, gender, and race/ethnicity: An intersectional analysis of pathways to STEM degreesSocial Sciences, 8(2), 1-29. doi: 10.3390/socsci8020043. See also video abstract: https://youtu.be/w-2QEoJjKDE

^ Perez-Felkner, L., Thomas, K., Nix, S., Hopkins, J., & D’Sa, M. (2019). Are 2-Year Colleges the Key? Institutional Variation and the Gender Gap in Undergraduate STEM Degrees. Journal of Higher Education. 90(2), 181-209. doi: 10.1080/00221546.2018.1486641

Perez-Felkner, L., Gaston Gayles, J. (Eds.) (2018). Special IssueAdvancing Higher Education Research on Undergraduate Women in STEM. New Directions for Institutional Research, vol. 179, pp. 1-137.

Perez-Felkner, L., Gaston Gayles, J. (2018). Editor’s NotesNew Directions for Institutional Research, 2018(179): 7-9.

Perez-Felkner, L. (2018). Conceptualizing the field: Higher education research on the STEM gender gapNew Directions for Institutional Research, 2018(179): 11-26. doi: 10.1002/ir.20273

Šaras, E., Perez-Felkner, L., & Nix, S. (2018).  Warming the Chill: Insights for Institutions and Researchers to Keep Women in STEMNew Directions for Institutional Research, 2018(179): 115-137. doi:10.1002/ir.20278

^ Milesi, C., Perez-Felkner, L., Brown, K, & Schneider, B. (2017). Engagement, Persistence, and Gender in Computer Science: Results of a Smartphone ESM Study. Frontiers in Psychology. 8(602). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00602

^ Perez-Felkner, L., Nix, S., & Thomas, K. (2017). Gendered Pathways: How Mathematics Ability Beliefs Shape Secondary and Postsecondary Course and Degree Field ChoicesFrontiers in Psychology, 8(386). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00386 See related press.

^ Schneider, B., Milesi, C., Perez-Felkner, L., Brown, K., & Gutin, I. (2015). Does the gender gap in STEM majors vary by field and institutional selectivity? Teachers College Record. See associated poster.

^ Nix, S., Perez-Felkner, L. C., & Thomas, K. (2015). Perceived mathematical ability under challenge: A longitudinal perspective on sex segregation among STEM degree fieldsFrontiers in Psychology, 6(530), 1-19. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00530. See related press.

^ Perez-Felkner, L., McDonald, S.-K., & Schneider, B. L. (2014). What happens to high-achieving females after high school? Gender and persistence on the postsecondary STEM pipeline. In I. Schoon & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Gender differences in aspirations and attainment: A life course perspective (pp. 285-320). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139128933.018 Read and download here.

Perez-Felkner, L., McDonald, S.-K., Schneider, B., & Grogan, E. (2012). Female and Male Adolescents’ Subjective Orientations to Mathematics and Their Influence on Postsecondary MajorsDevelopmental Psychology, 48(6), 1658–1673. See also APA link. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027020