School of Computing and Information Sciences
Mohsen Taheri is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University under the supervision of Dr. Monique Ross. He is a computer scientist and researcher with over 14 years of experience in academia and industry. His research interests span the fields of data science, computing education, software engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence. He has published more than 30 papers at numerous journals and conferences. Mohsen has contributed effectively to innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship at FIU, Miami, and South Florida as a founder, leader, and product manager of several multidisciplinary projects. He was awarded the UGS Provost Award for empowering startup communities and supporting local entrepreneurship initiatives in Miami and South Florida.
This dissertation explores the impact of computing identity sub-constructs on the academic persistence of computing students. Despite the growing significance of computer science and all projected new jobs, many university and college programs suffer from low student persistence rates. One theoretical framework used to better understand persistence in other STEM disciplines is disciplinary identity. This study examines the effects of computing identity sub-constructs (performance/competence, recognition, interest, and sense of belonging) on the academic persistence of computing students. A quantitative analysis with three phases was performed for this study. First, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation model (SEM) analysis were performed to validate and explore the computing identity model. Second, a multigroup SEM was performed to estimate the impact of the identity sub-constructs on persistence for students with diverse demographics such as gender dynamics and level of education. Third, a time-series SEM were used to investigate the impact of identity development on computing persistence over time. The findings indicated that students’ academic persistence was directly influenced by their interest as the most significant factor. In addition, performance, competence, recognition, and sense of belonging contributed to students’ identity development and academic persistence. Results of the second analysis indicated identity sub-constructs contributed differently to academic persistence among freshman and senior students; however, no significant differences were found between male and female students. Ultimately, the last analysis with time-series data indicated that interest and competence/performance, as individual factors had the strongest direct impacts on persistence over time. Considering student identity in understanding academic persistence in computing programs may provide a meaningful lens of analysis for institutes and curriculum and extracurricular planning methods. In addition, the development of students’ self-beliefs provides ways for increasing the number of graduates with the high potential of pursuing computing careers.