Multi-level student peer assisted mentoring (mspam) of computer science female students at undergraduate.

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Musonda, Chalwe
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The University of Zambia
The percentage of female students majoring in computer science is lower than that of male students. Computer science has one of the lowest shares of women degree recipients among the broader field of Science and Engineering, with reports of only nineteen percent of the computer science degrees in 2016 been awarded to women. As such, fewer women than men enter the computing profession, leading to a gender disparity in the computing workforce. One way to improve the current state is to mentor female students in the field of computer science at both undergraduate and in industry. This study explored the current state of mentorship programs in institutions of higher learning in Zambia with the aim to develope a structured mentoring program for enhancing the performance of undergraduate computer science female students. The study used interviews and observations to gather qualitative data in order to review mentorship program that the universities are running for the female computer science students at undergraduate. The study found that the informal type of mentorship was used by 35 percent of individual lecturers without being aware of its application and structure. After reviewing the mentorship programs in the universities the results show that mentorship programs were 100 percent non-existent in the Zambian universities. While mentoring was something that would improve the performance, it still however, presented these two challenges, lack of clear definition for mentorship and structuring the program to be used to improve the number of female computer science students. This study has led to Multi-level Student Peer Assisted Mentoring (MSPAM) framework for a 4 year computer science undergraduate program. MSPAM optimises peer mentoring by drawing mentors from other students in different years of learning and organising these mentors into different levels of mentorship. The lower female graduation rates in the field of computer science contribute to continued disparities in which women only account for nineteen percent of the computer science workforce. Offering Multi-level Student Peer Assisted Mentoring would help close the gap.
Thesis of Master of Science in Computer