research product . 2021

Investigating the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Computing Students' Sense of Belonging

Mooney, Catherine; Becker, Brett A.;
Open Access English
  • Published: 20 Mar 2021
  • Publisher: ACM
  • Country: Ireland
Abstract
The 52nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '21), Online Event, 13-20 March 2021 Sense of belonging, or belongingness, describes how accepted one feels in their academic community and is an important factor in creating inclusive learning environments. Belongingness is influenced by many factors including: students' backgrounds and experiences; other people; environments (physical and virtual); academic discipline; external factors such as local, regional, and global issues; and time. 2020 has been dominated by several major events including the COVID-19 pandemic which dramatically impacted education. The Black Lives Matter movement has further raised global awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion not just in society, but in educational contexts. Climate change concerns, and politically-charged news are also increasingly affecting our students. We have been monitoring our undergraduate computing students' sense of belonging for over three years, providing us with a unique opportunity to gauge recent changes during the pandemic. Our results surprised us. We found statistically significant reductions in the belongingness of students identifying as men as well as those not identifying as being part of a minority. However, investigating intersectionality of self-identified gender and minority status revealed more complicated and nuanced trends, illustrating important shifts in the belongingness of our students that we are only beginning to understand.
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free text keywords: Belongingness, COVID-19, Diversity, Gender equality, Inclusion, Intersectionality, Minority status, Sense of belonging, Underrepresentation, Underrepresented, Coronavirus
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