Programmatic Strategies to Broaden Participation in Data Science

DART, as a project, has convened a large group of participants including undergraduate and graduate students, early career and tenured faculty, administrators, staff, and K12 educators. We firmly believe in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and acknowledge the difference in those three terms.

DART’s leadership team and external evaluator stay updated on best practices in broadening participation and mentorship. Leading organizations such as Advancing Research in Society (ARIS) and the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), as well as resources such as the National Academies Science of Effective Mentorship in STEM guide and the Institute for Broadening Participation Mentor Manual were used in the development of the DART Broadening Participation strategies

Mentorship Program

We recognize the importance of mentorship in the formation of science identity and retention of students and early career faculty in STEM. DART plans to utilize individual development plans for summer (SURE) students, undergraduate research assistants (UGRA), graduate research assistants (GRA), and early career faculty. An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a personal action plan designed to help students and postdocs clarify their academic responsibilities and expectations and take more ownership of their professional development. IDPs can be a useful advising tool, helping mentors and mentees align their goals and expectations, identify areas for improvement, and track progress.

DART has developed IDP templates for each of the four roles listed above. The IDP should be implemented at the beginning of the project participation for individuals in each role and reviewed at the end of each person’s participation period, culminating in a survey. The SURE students will complete a skills assessment before and after the experience, and develop their IDPs with mentors. Graduate students should complete their IDPs with their mentors and evaluate it annually. Early career seed grant faculty will complete theirs at the beginning of their awards and evaluate them annually and/or at the end of the seed project. Interviews and focus groups will also be conducted by the external evaluator to obtain qualitative feedback from both mentors and mentees regarding the mentoring experience.

Mentors will also complete an annual survey to reflect on their growth as mentors. DART leadership will review assessment data to continually improve mentee and mentor support. The central office will also support campus level efforts to implement or strengthen relevant mentorship programs.

DART Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) Program

In addition to the 15+ undergraduate research assistantships that are funded annually through the project, DART will fund summer undergraduate research experiences (SURE), for students belonging to groups that are underrepresented in computer science, information science, and data science related fields (as defined by NSF CISE). DART faculty can apply for funds during an application window each spring to host students for 8 weeks, with a limit of $8,000 per award. Funds will support student stipends, housing, student-specific supplies, and in-state travel. SURE students will be invited to participate in the DART Student poster competition and present their projects at DART monthly seminars.

Career Development Workshops

In addition to the technical training opportunities offered to participants, DART hosts career development workshops frequently throughout the year around three rotating topics: mentorship, grantsmanship, and science communication. These workshops are open to all project participants and are free to attend. The central office recruits presenters for these workshops from national leading organizations in the fields, or agency program officers as appropriate. Information on these workshops is distributed through the DART faculty and student listservs, as well as @arepscor social media accounts. The workshops are recorded, with recordings posted on the @arepscor YouTube channel when possible. DART participants can request training topics through this form.

Broadening Participation Mini-Grants

DART accepts proposals for project-related mini grants for education, outreach, and broadening participation. Eligible entities include school districts, post-secondary institutions, educational service co-ops, non-profits, or other entities supporting data science and computer science education and outreach activities in Arkansas. The proposals will be reviewed by the central office, and outside experts as needed. Review criteria will include the audience or participants served and evaluation of the impact of the proposed activity. The manager of this program is Brittany Hillyer.

Arkansas Summer Research Institute (ASRI)

The ASRI is hosted in partnership with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA). The ASRI is an intensive professional development experience for STEM students (seniors in high school up to graduate students). This event is of no cost for attendees, and provides training on technical skills and career skills. The main goals of ASRI are to build a diverse support network of peers for STEM students in Arkansas and provide a summer bridge activity to increase retention in STEM.