Georgia Tech Focus' Intel Diversity Fellowship Helping IC’s Marissa Gonzales Study Online Computing Education

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School of Interactive Computing Ph.D. student Marissa Gonzales earned the Intel Diversity Fellowship from the Georgia Tech Focus Program, which provides a one-time award in the amount of $10,000.

The fellowship was created as a means to support underrepresented minority graduate students in technology and engineering. Fellows are students who display “research excellence, persistence, leadership, and service.”

Gonzales provided a research statement in application for the fellowship that outlined her studies in online education and student motivation in online environments.

“I am currently investigating non-traditional ways that people learn computing online, and working to determine what interventions work best in online education environments,” Gonzales said.

“I am most interested in researching how learning occurs online in communities of practice, specifically those who partake in the creation of meaningful, creative technological artifacts through design activities that foster computational thinking.”

Online communities of practice (OCoP) are groups of people who share a craft or profession where communication within the group is primarily computer-mediated. Gonzales believes the creation of games, stories, virtual objects, and other media artifacts within some OCoP could result in community members inadvertently learning about computing. Examples of OCoP that promote the creation of meaningful artifacts are virtual worlds such as Second Life, mobile applications such as EPISODE, and sandbox video games like Minecraft.

Gonzales is in her second year pursuing her Ph.D. in human centered computing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in informatics from the University of California, Irvine, in Dec. 2015. She currently works as a graduate research assistant in the Design and Intelligence Lab, where she is researching student motivation and cognitive strategies in online education and is supervised by her faculty advisor, Professor Ashok Goel.

Since coming to Georgia Tech in 2016, she has been awarded the President’s Fellowship, the Goizueta Foundation Fellowship and now the Intel Focus scholarship.

Georgia Tech launched the Focus Program in 1991 with the goal of increasing the number of master’s and doctoral degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities, not only at Georgia Tech but nationwide. The Focus Program lays the groundwork for achieving this goal by bringing together undergraduate students to meet with faculty, peers, alumni, and speakers from corporate and government arenas. It recently held its 2018 campus visit on Jan. 11-14.


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