The iAAMCS Guidelines for Successfully Mentoring Black/African-American Computing Sciences PhD Students

These guidelines were established to articulate successful strategies for mentoring African-American doctoral students in Computing Sciences (CS). We define “student mentoring” as the process of supporting, encouraging and guiding students’ academic and social progress with the goal of facilitating career and personal development. Grounded in project-based results and similar empirical research, the following guidelines emerged: (1) recruit strategically, (2) establish community, (3) foster a research culture, (4) provide holistic advising, (5) provide funding and (6) promote professional development. It is our hope that institutions, departments and faculty use these guidelines to bolster the participation of African-American students pursuing doctoral degrees in CS.

Although the iAAMCS Guidelines serve as best practices for mentoring African-American students in computing, these strategies are useful for optimal mentoring all students. Our data suggests that implementation of the practices outlined in these guidelines will enable African-American students to persist and graduate in CS PhD programs across the US. Integral to the iAAMCS Guidelines is the assertion that inclusion is key to the success of African-Americans in CS and that inclusion is the responsibility of all campus constituents.Using the “7 Barriers to STEM Disciplines and the PhD” as a rubric, the guidelines aim to mitigate the challenges students face in pursuit of their doctoral degrees. They touch on the following topics, as described in this pdf:

  • Strategic recruitment
  • Establishing community
  • Fostering a research culture
  • Providing holistic advising
  • Providing funding
  • Promoting professional development

Jackson, J.F.L., Charleston, L. J., Gilbert, J.E., & Seals, C., (2013) Changing Attitudes About Computing Science at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Benefits of an Intervention Program Designed for Undergraduates, Journal of African American Studies, 17, 2, pp. 162-173