Motivation to Pursue a Ph.D. in Computing

Black Students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities



Historically Black Colleges and Universities, motivation to pursue Ph.D., African-American master’s students, theory of justice, equity, equality, access, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, computer science, computing


This paper investigates the motivation of African American master’s degree students in computing to pursue a Ph.D..  Specifically, we sought to understand the motivation of those students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States.  Our framework was founded on the premise that an adequate theoretical rooting of broadening participation calls for reflections on the nature and practice of justice.  Motivation, nonetheless, remained the core factor, albeit addressing it within a context of justice or lack thereof.  The study shows that while most students seem intrinsically motivated by a desire to learn, leading to a likelihood to pursue a Ph.D., extrinsic factors such as funding and employability constitute the highest hindrance to such likelihood.


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Author Biography

Lecia Barker, University of Colorado Boulder

Lecia Barker conducts research in two areas. 1) Attracting, retaining, and advancing groups underrepresented in computing. Her research focuses on social climate, identity/belonging, faculty adoption of teaching and curricular practices, and sustainable organizational change. She advocates changing social and educational environments so that all students can develop a sense of belonging, not on changing students so that they fit into unwelcome environments. She presents on how to get girls and women into computing education from high school through graduate education and how to retain them in the field. 2) Evaluating the use and understanding of instructional technologies. She has researched student perceptions and uses of classroom-captured video lectures; student and faculty computing in higher education; computer-assisted instruction for deaf children; and most recently, student, faculty, and administrators' perceptions of students' data privacy in learning management systems.


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How to Cite

Cossa, J., & Barker, L. (2021). Motivation to Pursue a Ph.D. in Computing: Black Students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 10(1), 139–159. Retrieved from