Table of Contents:
Proposed Conceptual Framework
We propose a conceptual framework for computing identity development for Latina undergraduate students that consists of four main parts: (1) iterative computing identity development at the individual level; (2) five interweaving systems that define the computing and broader environment; (3) community cultural wealth and funds of identity derived from those environments; and (4) a distinct recognition of intersectionality and multiple forms of oppression these women may experience. As a conceptual framework, this work brings together multiple existing frameworks to explain how Latina undergraduate students make sense of their computing experiences and identities within their various environmental contexts. See Figure 2.1 for a visual representation of this conceptual framework.
Computing Identity Development at the Individual Level
We start at the individual level at the center of the proposed conceptual framework. At the individual level, we have students coming in with precollege computing identity experiences. Once in college, they gain computing identity experiences that may cause them to engage in daily identity negotiations and sense-making. The result is a revised computing identity and subsequent college outcomes. In the next section, we describe more about what happens within this individual-level process of computing identity development.
Borrowing From a Scrum Model
When putting this conceptual framework together, we thought about it almost as an agile, Scrum-like model, similar to that used in software development (Team Linchpin, 2019). Within software development, Scrum is a framework for managing a complex process. We feel as though this will
28 Sarah L. Rodriguez el al.
Figure 2.1 Proposed Framework for Computing Identity Development for Latina Undergraduates.
resonate with computer scientists, as it is a framework that they are already familiar with but applied to identity development. As a process, Scrum emphasizes interaction among stakeholders and attends to reflection and readjustment. It is incremental, iterative, responds well to unpredictability, and focuses on making the complex and technical streamlined toward simplicity. We believe that these attributes make a Scrum-like model well suited to the process of identity development.
Furthermore, the Scrum model emphasizes both the agency and motivation required by individuals and groups and is all about giving people the proper environment and the support that they need to get the job done (i.e., the “job" here being building a computing identity). Much like individuals and groups develop products, we have found that Latina students develop their computing identities by going through a type of planning, implementation, review, and retrospect-type process. Their daily computing experiences are like sprints of a Scrum model in which they are testing out their identities, launching them, getting feedback, and then designing, redesigning and, in some cases, leaving the project (i.e., computing) entirely.
At the individual level, Latina undergraduate students engage in a three- step recursive process that emphasizes daily negotiations of identity and sense-making. This process consists of: (1) pre-college computing identity experiences, (2) college computing identity experiences, and (3) revised computing identity and outcomes.
Pre-college Computing Identity Experiences
At the far left, we have the pre-college computing identity' experiences. These experiences are accumulated from birth through the end of high school. Prior to coming to campus, students may have engaged in daily identity negotiations and identity' sense-making in order to continuously refine and redefine their computing identities. These pre-college identities may have been shaped by early computing, math, and logic experiences. In addition, experiences with family, friends, peers, teachers, and student organizations influence students’ pre-college computing identity development.
From these experiences, Latina students may have anywhere between a well-formed computing identity' to a non-existent one. Pre-college computing identity experiences can be described using the four key elements of role identity' theory: interest, competence, performance, and recognition (Stryker & Burke, 2000). In this case, computing interest relates to a student’s preference or affinity for computing content, tools, or subjects. Competence refers to the way's in which students understand the knowledge and skills of computing. Performance refers to how students are able to utilize their understandings and act out their computing identities. Recognition refers to a student’s ability to recognize themselves and be recognized by others as a computer scientist.
College Computing Identity Experiences
In the middle, we have the college computing identity experiences, which are the heart of this conceptual model. While in college, Latina computing students continue to engage in daily identity' negotiations and identity sense-making recursive experiences in which they continuously' (re)defme their computing identities. Daily' identity' negotiations refer to the activities and interactions that Latina students have regularly' that influence their identity' development. These negotiations can start the moment that a Latina student has interaction with college-level computing content or interactions.
College identities are shaped by' computing experiences such as their introductory computing courses, homework assignments, and experiential learning environments (Peters, 2014; Peters, Berglund, Eckerdal, & Pears, 2014; Peters & Pears, 2012, 2013). Students’ identity' is also shaped by their interactions with individuals within computing such as faculty', peers, and industry partners, as well as outside of computing with family and community' members. Identity' sense-making refers to the ways in which Latina students evaluate those experiences and decide, consciously or subconsciously', whether they' see themselves as future computer scientists. As undergraduates,
Latina students develop their computing identities around the four constructs of interest, competence, performance, and recognition. Within this context, interest might refer to a Latina student’s draw and curiosity to learn more about technological advancements or significant computing topics. Competence might refer to a Latina student’s ability to utilize computing tools or technical skills, such as programming. Performance could refer to a Latina student’s ability to utilize that knowledge to complete a task or engage in acting the part of a computer scientist. Finally, recognition might refer to the ways in which she acknowledges herself as the type of person who does computing or the ways in which others see her as such.
Revised Computing Identity Experiences & Outcomes
At the far right, we have the revised computing identity experiences and outcomes. The term “revised” computing identity experiences refers to the idea that Latina students may have new or modified computing identities at this point in time. In addition, those computing identity experiences influence the eventual retention, persistence, and career outcomes of the student.
A student’s computing identity may become more or less salient as time passes. A stronger salient identity means that students become more interested in computing during the course of their college years and see those interests have greater alignment with their own aspirations and abilities. Students feel as though they are competent in their grasp of the content and can fully utilize the knowledge that they have to complete computing tasks. In addition, students feel comfortable performing that identity and taking on the role of computer scientist. This allows them to recognize themselves as computer scientists as well as be recognized by others as such. Conversely, the student may feel a sense of disconnection from the role of a computer scientist in relation to one of the four aspects of identity. For instance, a student could feel disinterested in the role of a computer scientist due to the content, the degree, or failing to see how their interests connect to those of the field. Or they could struggle to feel competent with computing content, perhaps as a result of entering college without prior programming experiences because they did not have access to computer science courses in high school. If institutions fail to address inequities early and students struggle to gain competence in topics that they are assumed to have knowledge of coming in, disparities could persist. Students could also experience a lack of affirmation when they try to perform their role as a computer scientist in the presence of others; they might not be able to utilize the knowledge and tools to demonstrate their competence to others. Finally, Latina students might not see themselves as computer scientists or be recognized by others as such. The outcome of these identity experiences is twofold: identity strength and salience, and their willingness to continue in the role of computer scientist. A student’s computing identity becomes stronger and more salient for those who can see themselves in this role; this sense of identity means that students either decide to stay in the field or not. As they make sense of their experiences and revise their computing identities to be stronger and more salient, they have the ability to recover quickly from challenges and, when challenged, have the ability to sustain their computing identities. In this way, computing identity is an integral element of resilience for Latina women in these fields, providing them a foundation and resolve to persist in their majors and on into the computing workforce.