SCS DEI Update

May. 27, 2022

Collaborative Learning and the Treisman Model

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Uri Treisman, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, was faced with the problem of high failure rates of minority students in undergraduate calculus courses. According to Treisman, these students excelled as valedictorians and church youth group leaders before attending Berkeley, and were highly motivated and under great pressure to succeed. Their high failure rates were blamed on lack of motivation, lack of educational background and lack of family emphasis on education (Fullilove and Triesman, 1990). Treisman challenged these assumptions and replaced the remedial approaches with an honors program that encouraged students to collaborate on challenging problems in an environment of high expectations (Conciatore, 1990).

Largely African-American and Latino students with high SAT scores were recruited for a workshop, which focused on

  • helping minority students excel, rather than avoiding failure;
  • collaborative learning and small-group teaching methods; and
  • faculty sponsorship, which enabled the program to thrive.

With this approach, the group focused on building a community around the courses and material, and allowing for deep, thought-inspiring conversations around problems that challenged and interested the students. The faculty created an object of desire and students quickly chose mathematics as a major (Marcus et al, 2020).


SCS Will Pilot a Short DEI Training in May and June

This program was put together by our DEI internal team, members of the Title IX Office and members of the provost’s DEI team. We hope to get feedback on a rough version of the content — which covers bias busters, sexual harassment, discrimination and civility training — during May and June. Content is accessed remotely, and at the learner’s own pace. If you are a full-time staff or faculty member and are interested in providing feedback on our pilot training, fill out this form and we will contact you with more information.

OurCS Will Be Held on Campus Oct. 20–23

The OurCS conference aims to provide research experiences for undergraduate women in various areas within the field of computer science. SCS faculty, staff and students are needed to help mentor research teams and to join us for social activities. Those who are interested in volunteering can fill out this form. The OurCS planning team will provide updates in coming weeks.

SCS Will Be a Contributing Sponsor for Tapia, Grace Hopper

SCS will be a contributing sponsor for the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing (Sept. 7–10) and the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Technology Conference (Sept. 20–23).There will be opportunities for interested students to apply and be selected to attend, both in person and virtually. Those selected will receive various levels of financial support. Faculty may refer students based on their academic performance/research. Applications will be reviewed by a committee and we will do our best to support as many attendees as we can. Stay tuned for more information about how to recommend a student or apply.

RoboLaunch: Explore Robotics Initiative

Ever wondered what robotics is? Come explore the world of robotics with RoboLaunch. The initiative offers a series of talks and conversations from diverse pioneers through which you can explore robotics and how research and education can be fun! The initiative introduces you to broad topics in robotics through talks and interactive workshops, and culminates in a competition in the fall where you get to show what you’ve learned. CMU RISS RoboLaunch is a robotics outreach and broadening participation initiative, making robotics more accessible. Our RoboLaunch Discord Server aims to foster an inclusive global learning community, and we invite you to join us. Learn more and register on the RISS RoboLaunch website.


  • Conciatore, J. (1990). From Flunking to Mastering Calculus: Treisman's Retention Model Proves to Be. Black Issues in Higher Education, 6(22), 5-6.
  • Fullilove, R. E., & Treisman, P. U. (1990). Mathematics achievement among African American undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley: An evaluation of the mathematics workshop program. The Journal of Negro Education, 59(3), 463-478.
  • Marcus, D., Cobb, E., & Schoenberg, R. (2020). Lessons Learned from FIPSE Projects II-University of California, Berkeley.

Thank you,
The SCS DEI Team