Sense of belonging and first-generation Latinx students in Computer Science cohort-based transfer pathway programs

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2024-05

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The increasing demand for a computationally trained workforce that reflects Latinx population growth in America has encouraged institutions to revisit exclusionary practices and develop initiatives that support Latinx undergraduate student persistence in Computer Science (CS). CS is necessary not only to keep pace with the rapid change in technology that drives innovation and sustains global economic competitiveness but also to create pathways that foster interest in scientific graduate education (Wofford, 2023). One of the key pathways to a CS degree for Latinx students, a majority of whom will be the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree, is through the upward transfer process from a community college to a four-year university. This qualitative, narrative study captured the lived experiences of seven first-generation Latinx undergraduate students persisting at two Hispanic-Serving Institutions and how they experienced a sense of belonging, a predictor of college success, with support from a CS cohort-based transfer pathway program. Findings reveal that these programs remove barriers to transfer, and “mutual belonging” and “dual belonging” are predictors of first-generation Latinx student persistence. Findings serve as a guide for collaborations to broaden participation in computing.

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