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I-FOCUS-CS Activities


We plan to organize the following individualized and group activities to support the I-FOCUS-CS Scholars.

Having learning contracts and keeping record of each student’s progress

We will sign a learning contract with each I-FOCUS-CS student in the beginning of each semester after the orientation sessions discussed later. Accordingly, we will keep track of each I-FOCUS-CS student and check his/her progress so that we can provide early interventions. Through individualized progress checking, we will better know our students, track their academic progress, and accordingly provide necessary academic help based on their needs.


I-FOCUS-CS program will provide individual tutors while also leveraging the existing Teaching Assistant (TA) and tutoring services in the department. Another key resource that we will use is the existing Tomas Rivera Center (TRC) at UTSA. The TRC is an existing academic support unit that provides free services for student success at all levels. The TRC Quantitative Skills Q-Lab offers free walk-in tutoring in all quantitative sciences. Free tutoring is also available in a variety of core subjects. Individualized academic coaching is designed to identify and assist with barriers to student achievement and is extremely useful at finding root causes when student intelligence is not reflected in their test scores.

Increasing student-faculty contact time

Many students do not take advantage of faculty office hours while it is shown to improve student performance. Our own experience also shows that many students don’t come to office hours unless we encourage them individually. But when they come, we are able to see what they are missing individually and how to fix it. Accordingly, they improve significantly. In addition, we realized that when students make personal contacts with the instructor, they pay more attention to the lecture and also participate more in class discussions. So we will highly recommend our I-FOCUS-CS students to make personal contact with their instructors and TAs and utilize their office hours. We plan to measure this as part of our individualized progress checking system.

Faculty mentoring

We got strong support from several faculty who agreed to mentor I-FOCUS-CS Scholars (click here for the list). Faculty mentoring is shown to have great impact on student success. Each student will meet with his/her faculty mentor at least twice a semester and get personalized help based on his/her individual skills, interests, and goals. Faculty mentors will also involve interested junior and senior students in their research to motivate them for graduate schools.

Orientation and jump start programs

Currently, our department has a jump start program where students take a one-day course just before the semester starts and review the materials from prerequisite courses. While taking advantage of this existing service, we plan to enrich it and provide week-long courses for I-FOCUS-CS students, particularly for the ones who received less than B+ in prerequisite courses. We would like to also offer an orientation session to all I-FOCUS-CS students in the beginning of each semester and inform them about our expectations and goals. We we will also collaborate with Tomas Rivera Center (TRC) at UTSA to provide students academic coaching on a variety of topics, including time management, study skills such as note taking and textbook reading, test preparation particularly in CS.

Bi-weekly group meetings and networking to build a sense of community

Bi-weekly group meetings will provide a networking platform for our students to share their experiences with each other and provide us feedback to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of our activities better. It is shown that support group meeting and networking helps students to engage more and stay focused on their studies. In addition, the I-FOCUS-CS Scholars will be encouraged to be part of the student chapter of the ACM, which provides excellent opportunities for students to interact. Additionally, our faculty emphasize the importance for students to use our CS main lab to do most of their assignments. This helps students feel like they belong. Most of our students have chosen to do their assignments in the lab.

Involving students in graduate education:

To help students develop life-long learning skills, we will encourage them to take courses cross listed with graduate courses or audit graduate courses (particularly in senior year). In such cases, we will pair them with graduate students to taste the realm of graduate study and doing research. Interested I-FOCUS-CS students will also have research experience under the supervision of their faculty mentor and collaborate with the Office of Undergraduate Research, which may provide additional opportunities.

Attending conferences and professional workshops

Attending regional and national conferences/ workshops will enable students to learn about recent developments, which will motivate them towards advance degrees in CS. Accordingly, we have allocated travel funds to support individual students to attend conferences/workshops depending on their interest area. We like to also organize this as a group activity, which will improve our networking efforts while building the sense of community in a larger scale.

Exposing students to prospective employers through CS-specific activities

Developing soft-skills is an important factor in keeping students on track; thus, it will be an integral part of the I-FOCUS-CS program. Actually, the Co-PI has been leveraging his significant industry experience in organizing several activities including career days, resume writing, mock interviews. Each of these sessions include industry professionals. There are multiple mock interview sessions for students to improve their skills by answering interview questions and receiving feedback from technical employers. In the Fall semester, we provide resume writing workshops and review sessions. Our students learn from sessions on picking an employer based on more than just salary (e.g., mission, benefits, career ladder, mentoring, education). In the Spring just before graduation, a career survival session is provided which discusses how to be successful on assignments, soft skills, communication, and relationships. For the I-FOCUS-CS Scholars, we will enhance these activities along with new ones such as field trips to companies and internships.