Acknowledging that immersive language learning is a more effective means of mastery than non-immersion across all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, CS and DS faculty would like to test immersive technology learning as a strategy that gives underrepresented students a leg up in preparation for success in technology disciplines, like computer science.
Faculty in CS and DS propose a semester-long, four-course credit ‘study away’ experiment in partnership with an immersive technology learning program in Silicon Valley. The study away experiment would be open to 12 first or second-year students intending to study CS, where 75% or higher come from underrepresented groups.
A study away in Silicon Valley affords Davidson students the experience of living and working in arguably the most dynamic technology innovation ecosystem in the world—learning coding languages and the entrepreneurial mindset within a real-world experiential setting. Just as Davidson acknowledges that sending students abroad allows for experiences that cannot be replicated on campus, due in large part to immersion in another culture, the same would be true of this program.
Davidson already has a number of students (current and alumni) who have successfully completed immersive technology programs. They have done so on their own, either during the summer or after graduation. However, because of the cost of such programs (which are outside support from financial aid, like our academic programs that run during the summer), many of our underrepresented students have been unable to participate in such an experience.
This experiment is aimed at seeking new ways forward that help us meet the college’s inclusivity efforts in STEM. A full study away program will enable access to populations underrepresented at Davidson and in the technology field generally (namely women, African-Americans, and Latinos). Following the study abroad funding model, we believe this experiment can be achieved with faculty program leadership and without exceeding financial restrictions.