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STARS Leadership Corps
The STARS Computing Corps is a community of practice for student-led regional engagement as a means to broaden participation in computing (BPC). Central to this program is the STARS Leadership Corps (Corps) which is a model for catalyzing regional partnerships through the tiered participation of students, professionals and educators in civic engagement and experiential learning. Over 40 colleges and universities have implemented the Corps. The latest phase of the STARS Computing Corps focuses on the national adoption of Corps practices to bring about a computing workforce that is larger, more diverse, and with broader skill sets.
The STARS Leadership Corps Model
The STARS Leadership Corps (Corps) is a curricular or co-curricular service-learning program that fosters student-led regional engagement. The Corps can function in different ways: as a credit-bearing course, a student-organization, or utilized to meet the requirements of other university or departmental entities, such as honors programs.
College students join a Corps for an average of two semesters and perform projects (e.g., K-14 outreach, mentoring, tutoring, pair-learning, research, internships, community service) for an average of 5 hours a week. A seminar series is recommended to guide the students in the leadership and team skills needed for successful community service projects as well as professional development.
Corps – “a group of persons associated together or acting under common direction; especially: a body of persons having a common activity or occupation” Merriam-Webster online.
The STARS Leadership Corps (Corps) is a multi-year experience providing students with support throughout their academic journey. The Corps fosters an extended student community among academia, industry, and the community through civic engagement, mentoring, and professional development and/or research experiences. The Corps is implemented with the following central values that have been shown to be effective for recruiting and graduating under-represented students in computing.
- Technical Excellence - developing students’ technical excellence. Motivating and enabling students to become highly competent in computing, thereby increasing their confidence and interest in computing; preparing for entry into workforce, graduate school and the professoriate.
- Leadership – developing students’ soft skills, including leadership and professional development, team work, writing, speaking, and time-management.
- Civic Engagement and Service – developing students’ ability and desire to use computing and technology in service to society. Helping students to see the social relevance of computing, both through the workforce and research.
- Community – developing students’ sense of belonging within a larger computing community; training on identity development, diversity, gender issues, and a tiered mentoring model.
Theoretical Rationale and Empirical Support for the Corps Model
The Corps Model has a strong theoretical foundation and was designed to incorporate best practices in student success, particularly for under-represented students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The Corps model is grounded in Astin's Involvement Theory (Astin et al, 2000), which posits that student engagement is a key mediator of retention and academic success. Student engagement occurs through their engagement with the subject-matter or curriculum of a discipline; their engagement with faculty and staff in an academic unit; their engagement in student life and co-curricular activities; and thier engagement with other students, especially students who share certain characterisitcs or interests. The Corps model combines pedgogies of engagement by creating learning communities focused on research, service, and outreach.
STARS Participant Schools