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  1. While the computer science community has explored the importance of Undergraduate Research Experiences (UREs) and, separately, collaboration in computing (e.g. pair programming), little research has studied collaboration in the context of a URE. We performed a qualitative thematic analysis of how students collaborate within a group-structured, academic-year, inclusive computing URE catered towards second-year students at two large public research universities in the United States. We analyzed free-response and Likert-scale survey data collected early and late in the program from a total of 106 students who comprised three program cohorts. We studied their overall group function, what aspects of group work led to positive or negative group experiences, how their group affected their feelings of being supported, and how their group affected their sense of belonging in computing. We found that group experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Further, we found that students’ experiences in groups centered around three themes: group fit and belonging, emotional and academic support, and logistics. Within each theme, their experiences were rich and nuanced, and we observed variations by gender, and to a lesser degree by race. Our work suggests that group-structured UREs are both feasible and beneficial for students, and we give concrete suggestions for how tomore »make these experiences successful.« less
  2. The Early Research Scholars Program (ERSP) was launched in 2014 at UC San Diego as a way to provide the benefits of research experiences to a large and diverse group of students early in their undergraduate computing career. ERSP is a structured program in which second-year undergraduate computing majors participate in a group-based, dual-mentored research apprenticeship over a full academic year. In its first four years ERSP engaged 139 students with a high proportion of women (68%) and racially minoritized students (19%), and participation in ERSP correlated with increased class grades. In 2018 we partnered with three additional universities to launch their own version of ERSP. Implementations at our partner sites have seen similar diversity and initial success, and have taught us how to implement the program in different contexts (e.g. quarters vs. semesters, different credit structures). This paper describes the structure of ERSP and how it can be adapted to different contexts to construct a scalable and inclusive research experience for early-career undergraduates in computing and related fields.
  3. Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to have many positive effects on undergraduates including increased confidence, sense of belonging and retention. However, many previous studies of undergraduate research experiences have focused on advanced undergraduate (juniors and seniors) in one-on-one research experiences with a faculty mentor. Less is known about the effects of early undergraduate research, particularly via opportunities that scale beyond one-on-one faculty-student relationships to encompass large numbers of early undergraduates. The research question addressed in this work is whether a more scalable group-based research model aimed at early undergraduates from groups underrepresented in computing would show the same kinds of benefits for participants as more personalized one-on-one programs aimed at more advanced students. We evaluated a group-based early research program in the computer science department of a large public university. Through survey data and direct measurements of performance and retention several years after students had completed the program, we found that students who participated in this program have higher overall GPAs, more confidence, and more interest in research compared to several different control groups. Our design also allowed us to examine the considerable impact that selection bias can have on the evaluation of research programs. This work both validatesmore »the scalable structure of this research program and provides a richer perspective on the benefits of early undergraduate research in CS.« less