Joi Mondisa, U-M Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE) assistant professor, has received funding from Morehouse College through the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project centered on evaluating the ability of virtual mentor avatars to assist computer science undergraduate students who are considering pursuing graduate degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The project aims to expand the best practices of effective digital mentors to a larger percentage of undergraduate students at HBCUs and will help build the research capacity at two specific HBCUs, Morehouse College and Alabama A&M University. In addition, the project will fund the development of a formal collaboration between Morehouse College and the Online Masters in Computer Science Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“This research will allow us to investigate the barriers faced by African American students when deciding on pursuing advanced degrees in computing,” Mondisa said. “This work will also enhance our understanding about the role of virtual mentoring in students’ persistence and how we can optimize the ways that people engage in mentoring.”
Mondisa will serve as the STEM mentoring educational researcher and advisor on the project. In this role, she will assist with the application of educational theory in project activities and advise on course curriculum development suggestions for the Online Masters degree program.
Mondisa is collaborating with Principal Investigator Kinnis Gosha, an assistant professor in computer science and the director of the Culturally Relevant Computer Lab at Morehouse College, and Co-Principal Investigator Tonya Davis, an assistant professor and psychology and counseling program coordinator at Alabama A&M University.
Joi Mondisa joined UM-IOE in 2016. Her research interests include examining mentoring approaches, relationships, and intervention programs and designing and assessing learning experiences and outcomes.