The S-STEM Flit-Path (Florida IT Pathways) project will recruit, retain, and provide scholarships and curricular and co-curricular support to academically talented students with financial need in the IT related disciplines of Computer Science, Information Technology, and Computer Engineering at FIU, UCF, and USF.
The goals of the project are to:
- Increase retention, student success, and graduation of students who pursue a degree in the Computer Science, Information Technology, and Computer Engineering disciplines;
- Implement a model of student engagement that affects the recruitment, retention, student success, academic and career pathways, and degree attainment of students pursuing a degree in these disciplines; and
- Contribute to the implementation and sustainability of effective evidence-based curricular/co-curricular activities for its students.
Building on a Targeted Education Attainment (TEAm) grant from the Florida State Board of Governors, project activities include tutoring for foundation courses; intrusive academic advising; faculty, industry, and peer mentoring; and academic and career pathway support. Participation in project activities is expected to increase the graduation rate for Flit Path students by 20%.
The project will recruit two cohorts of students. Cohort A will be comprised of 54 first time college students in each of Years 1 and 2 of the grant. Cohort B will be comprised of 69 first time in college senior students each year, who have the potential and interest in graduating within one year’s time. Flit-Path will impact 453 students who are pursuing degrees in Computer Science, Information Technology, and Computer Engineering.
The mixed methods explanatory research design includes a longitudinal quantitative study followed by a qualitative longitudinal phenomenological study that is designed to investigate patterns observed in the quantitative data. The longitudinal quantitative study examines changes in students’ persistence, computing identity, retention, graduation, and job placement of Flit-Path students compared to non-Flit-Path students. The relationships among particular experiences in the project and levels of change in the outcomes will be examined.
The guiding research questions are:
- What are the relative and cumulative effects of project-related experiences on students’ persistence, computing identity, and success outcomes? Are these effects different for students from underrepresented groups?
- What are the relative and cumulative effects of social and economic supports within the program?
- For specific effects observed, how are these types of activities experienced by students in the program and why might they affect particular educational outcomes?
In addition, the project will investigate the supports and barriers that facilitate and impede a collaborative effort across three universities that creates a “community of practice” around student engagement and a sustainable partnership among institutions.