Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID)

The BRAID initiative (Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity), founded in 2014 by Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College (HMC) and Dr. Telle Whitney, former President of, aims to increase the percentage of women and students of color majoring in computer science. The BRAID initiative includes fifteen computer science departments across the U.S. that are committed to implementing changes to their introductory computer science courses, pathways into the major, departmental climate, and outreach efforts in hopes of diversifying their computer science majors. The Momentum team is conducting a mixed-methods, longitudinal study of the BRAID initiative and has developed robust longitudinal databases, with major projects including: a study that tracks over 10,000 college students from introductory computer science courses through college and into graduate school and early careers; a longitudinal qualitative study of computer science department chairs as “change agents” in diversity efforts; and case studies of innovative diversity efforts. From these data, we have conducted myriad analyses and written papers on topics ranging from factors that promote students’ sense of belonging in introductory courses to the role of external dynamics in department chairs’ BPC efforts.

A photo of Dr. Kathleen Lehman (left) and Dr. Linda Sax (right) with BRAID co-founder, Dr. Maria Klawe (center) in front of a brown door inside of a room with white walls and a gray bulletin board.

Dr. Kathleen Lehman (left) and Dr. Linda Sax (right) with BRAID co-founder, Dr. Maria Klawe (center).

A photo of the BRAID research team, BRAID institution department chairs, and other BRAID collaborators during the 2018 BRAID Summit meeting. There are eleven people standing in the back row. The front two row consists of 23 people sitting on large concrete steps.

BRAID Research Team, Department Chairs, and Staff from the 2018 BRAID Summit

The BRAID Research project is a mixed-methods study that examines data from students, instructors, department chairs, and staff in undergraduate computing departments. The key components of the project include:

Quantitative Data Sources

  • Baseline student surveys: The student surveys targeted two populations: (1) computing majors/minors and (2) students enrolled in introductory computing courses. In the Fall 2015 and 2016, computing majors/minors at each BRAID institution received a survey on their experiences in computing. Additionally, during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, all students enrolled in introductory computing courses received a pre-test and a post-test survey to assess student change during the introductory computing experience. These surveys were similar to the survey of computing majors and minors, but also included questions on introductory computing experiences. The baseline student surveys were developed in collaboration with the CERP team at the Computing Research Association (CRA), allowing our teams to share data and conduct comparative analyses between our samples. Our team has collected data on over 10,000 individuals through our baseline student survey and have leveraged these data to learn more about students who enroll in introductory courses, including non-computing students, students who are undecided about their majors, and those who take introductory courses later in their academic careers. Additionally, our team has examined how students’ experiences in the introductory course shape student outcomes.
  • Student follow-up surveys: Students who completed the introductory course surveys have been followed up annually since 2016. Annual follow-ups enable the BRAID research team to track students’ major trajectories, long-term career aspirations, and perceptions of computing across time. Our team has used these data to conduct studies on students’ persistence in computing majors, as well as their career and graduate school aspirations.
  • Survey of introductory course instructors: This survey was administered each term during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years to instructors teaching introductory computing courses with the aim of learning more about introductory instructors’ pedagogical techniques, perceptions of computing, and teaching experiences. These data have informed studies about the pedagogical practices of introductory course instructors and how their teaching practices are related to their perceptions of students in their courses and the departments in which they teach.
  • Enrollment & degree attainment data: The research team surveys BRAID departments each year to collect up-to-date, intersectional enrollment and degree attainment, allowing us to track trends in who enrolls in and ultimately earns degrees both in computing fields broadly, as well as computer science majors, specifically. Recently, the team has worked closely with the Center for Inclusive Computing (CIC) to align degree attainment data collection procedures such that we can compare intersectional data on who earns computer science degrees across BRAID and CIC institutions.

Qualitative Data Sources

  • Department chair, faculty, and staff interviews: During the first five years of BRAID, the research team conducted annual interviews with department chairs and other key administrators annually to understand how they made meaning of their role as leaders in efforts to broaden participation in computing. Additionally, faculty and staff members were interviewed in Spring 2016. These data have been used to inform several studies about the role of department chairs in BPC work, as well as the process of changing computing departments to support diversity efforts.
  • Syllabi content analysis: To examine teaching practices and curriculum, syllabi for introductory courses at BRAID institutions were analyzed to explore the various programming languages and class formats offered across BRAID Institutions.
  • Case studies: The research team conducted multi-institutional case studies with four BRAID institutions to explore how a broader range of stakeholders (e.g., students, faculty, staff) work to advance diversity efforts in the context of booming undergraduate enrollments in computing. We interviewed 55 department chairs, faculty, staff, and students across the four sites. The team is now engaged in analysis of these data and plans to complete the analysis by Spring 2021.