Community Needs Assessment
In Spring 2020, we asked our community to participate in a Needs Assessment Survey to help us set a direction for activities and identify appropriate topics such that we can best meet the collective statement of interest of CSEd graduate students.
What we've learned
We received a strong response from those invited that is generally representative of the CSEdGrad community. Participants were asked to rate the potential value of a broad set of topics, their interest in several possible modes of delivery for these topics, and what modes of delivery might be best suited for certain topics.
Overall, participants expressed strong interest in nearly every topic offered and generally favored face-to-face gatherings, special interest groups, a website with rich resources, and a few other supports, with a focus on purposeful interactions within and without the CSEdGrad community.
CS students expressed a more pressing need for education resources than education students and vice versa.
Topical interests differed slightly between those who had only completed up to two years of their studies (who favored academic topics) and those who had completed three or more years of their studies (who favored career-related topics.).
Students farther in their graduate program were also more likely to be willing to provide leadership to CSEdGrad activities.
Of 79 graduate students emailed, 42 completed and 10 partial surveys were returned. Most students belonged to colleges of CS (17), education (14), or engineering (4), with the remainder (3) spread across other colleges. Most of the responses were from students in the United States (44), while the remaining were from outside of the country (8).
Level of Interest
There was high potential value assigned to a broad set of potential topics of support covering academics, research, and career, however, some of the highest-rated items from these categories consisted of career preparation, networking, personal values, and developing research skills and strategies, in that order.
There was similarly broad interest in various modalities of support, though the majority of participants reported preferring face-to-face gatherings, special interest groups, or a website with rich resources.
The heatmap of topics by the preferred modality of delivery provided a few more popular options listed below. A website with rich resources was preferred in most cases, however, in some categories, many modalities received similar levels of interest support. Participants also frequently placed an emphasis on purposeful interactions over static resources in their open responses.
When prompted to provide thoughts on topics such as academic progression or getting research done, several participants noted that resources on non-academic career options would be helpful. Specifically, some noted concerns about academic hiring freezes due to COVID-19 or how advisors were sometimes unable/unwilling to provide advice on non-academic career paths. Other concerns varied and concerned topics such as understanding or navigating academia.
When prompted to provide thoughts on possible modalities of engagement, participants generally favored community building or purposeful interactions with the intent to build relationships. Institutional challenges and career options were brought up several times as a topic that could be contentious or even damaging to a graduate student’s future if non-graduate students (such as established professors or advisors) were involved in the conversation.
“I don't pursue journal publications, perhaps to my own detriment, because I'm more interested in meeting the people with ideas and understanding how the CSEd community works.”
“Some things are viewed as common knowledge to people who have had generational access to academia while others (first gen, minority, international etc.) may not know or be privy to [it].”