There continue to be underrepresented student populations in undergraduate computer science and information technology programs in the United States and Pennsylvania. Despite some enrollment growth, female students in particular continue to be underrepresented. The authors are in the final year of managing a five-year, $614,375 program to support underrepresented student populations in our majors via scholarships and supporting activities, funded by the National Science Foundation. The program has been particularly successful in recruiting and retaining female students. We have discovered several patterns of behavior that provide early warnings for at-risk students. Lack of first-semester contribution to simple activities such as suggested blogging are about 93% accurate in predicting students who will not remain in the program due to lack of motivation and/or reliable work habits. Scholars leave the program because of low grade point averages, changes to non-STEM majors, or dropping out of college. Low incoming standardized exam scores also provide warnings. Detecting at-risk students early, and making continued scholarship support contingent on attendance at classes and tutoring sessions, are promising means for improving retention. Additional, more positive types of intervention are considered. Some of our findings may apply to our department’s overall undergraduate population.
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Proceedings of the 35th Annual Spring Conference of the Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science Educators (PACISE), West Chester University of PA, West Chester, PA, April 3-4, 2020.