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Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE)


CAITE designs and carries out comprehensive programs that address under-representation in information technology (IT).

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Project Outcomes

Outcomes of the CAITE project sponsored by grants from the National Science Foundation, 2007-2013:

The Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE) worked to increase the participation and success of underrepresented groups in information technology (IT) through a regional strategy that includes four campuses of the University of Massachusetts (UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell), two state universities (Bridgewater and Worcester), and nine community colleges (Bristol, Bunker Hill, Cape Cod, Greenfield, Holyoke, Middlesex, Northern Essex, Roxbury, and Springfield Technical). CAITE is the only NSF BPC alliance to directly address community colleges, where many first-in-the-family college-goers and older and working students with families begin their college careers (44% of all undergraduates nationally are in community college). Importantly, CAITE community college partners are located in regions where residents are highly underrepresented in the state’s IT economy, where there are significant minority populations, and where educational attainment and prosperity are low. Through events and a media strategy, CAITE reached out to communities, regions, middle and high schools, public community and 4-year colleges and universities, and community groups to promote participation in computing careers and education. CAITE focused on institutional change, primarily along the high school/community college/4-year college pathways, and addresses issues related to curricular and institutional alignment, articulation, and mentoring in gateway courses.

To increase the participation of those traditionally underrepresented in the Massachusetts information economy, the CAITE alliance focused primarily on the community college to 4-year college pipeline, but the CAITE mission is multi-dimensional. We reach out also to middle school and high school students, parents, teachers, and counselors in communities where potential students might not be considering 4-year colleges because they are not yet educationally prepared, cannot afford a 4-year college, are not thinking of 4-year colleges for social and family reasons, or are seeking retraining or career changes. CAITE encourages CC students to consider transfer and develops the pathways that will ease their transition into and ensure their retention in 4-year programs. Our pathways effort focuses on both student-centered and institution-centered reform. Student-centered initiatives aim to provide students with access to a wealth of education resources. Institution-centered initiatives include development of articulation agreements and roadmaps – maps of course equivalencies between institutions that identify potential common courses and curricula. CAITE supports novel and existing pathways towards degree completion: both traditional articulated programs and “transfer roadmaps” to facilitate student enrollment in IT degree programs; mentoring including supplemental peer-mentoring and facilitated study groups; professional development across the alliance with special focus on community college and high school faculty, advisors, and guidance counselors; and formal and informal middle and high school programs.

Outcomes related to Intellectual Merit:

  1. Through our outreach, recruitment, and retention efforts, we are seeing more students enroll in community college IT programs and transfer into the four UMass campus computing bachelor's degree programs. CAITE's work to align 2-year and 4-year curricula and to recruit and support transfer students at UMass campuses is contributing to both growth and increasing diversity in enrollments.
  2. Where we have complete data, 5.14% of CAITE community college students enrolled in computing programs as a percentage of total enrollments vs. the 3.95% national average, and 2.19% of four-campus UMass students vs. the 1.18% national average.
  3. Enrollment in CAITE partner community college computing programs has grown by 92% (2007-11) and 78% (2007-10) in transfer programs.
  4. At UMass Amherst, the number of CC transfers increased 183% (6 to 17) from F07 to F11, and 30% of the incoming 2011 transfers were women and underrepresented minorities.
  5. Enrollment at the four UMass campuses increased at a greater rate (52% vs. 23%) than those at comparable institutions nationally (based on CRA Taulbee Survey). Since CAITE began, the number of females and underrepresented minority students in UMass computing programs has increased significantly (58% and 69%, respectively). Many of these students are transfers from CCs.
  6. CAITE implemented peer mentoring (SPI) in challenging gateway courses over four semesters, across seven campuses, and in 32 classes that enrolled more than 1,600 students.  Students who attended SPI sessions achieved statistically significant higher grades (by approximately a half letter grade).

Outcomes related to Broader Impacts:

  1. CAITE reached more than 12,000 students and more than 700 educators at 200+ events and activities, and in addition, CAITE reached 600+ participants at 12 school, college, and community organization events as part of CSEdWeek.
  2. CAITE reached approximately 500 participants at another 12 events including several Mobile Boot Camps.
  3. CAITE’s extensive media program includes websites (project reporting, collaboration, and student recruiting), printed materials in Spanish and English, newsletters, and a website ( that includes information on IT careers and opportunities, links to CAITE and partner programs and events, and provides information on course equivalency and transfer pathways.
  4. CAITE coordinated regional outreach activities among community colleges and 4-year campuses and co-sponsors with other initiatives such as BATEC, UM-LSAMP, NE-LSAMP, Empowering Leadership, the CRAW/CDC Alliance, Georgia Computes!, AccessComputing, etc.