June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Women in Engineering
11.603.1 - 11.603.8
EVALUATING SELF-ASSESSMENT AND A PLACEMENT EXAMINATION FOR A FIRST COURSE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE: HOW DO WOMEN AND MINORITY STUDENTS FARE?
The recruitment of women and minority students to computer science undergraduate degree programs has not kept pace with other science and engineering disciplines. The introductory computer science course is a contributing factor to the poor retention rates for students in general and worse yet for women and minority students. There is interest in revamping the introductory computer science course for improving student effectiveness and retention. In the meantime, the approach of centering the introductory computer science course on an industrial strength language, such as C++ and Java, is considered by some as a factor contributing to the retention problems. This paper discusses the role of a placement examination as the means for advisement on entry to the first course in computing. A self-assessment part of the placement examination that was coupled with correct responses can be used to aid in early identification for advisement and course support.
Many students have difficulty with the first course in computer science, especially women and underrepresented minority students, as shown in research and with our own local data. Most engineering and computer science students are typically required to complete one of two introductory computer science courses, which is either a course in Java or a course in C++. We noted in 2002 that a disproportionate percentage of women and minority students were withdrawing or receiving D’s or E’s (F’s) in these introductory courses.5
Calculus I placement examinations have been shown to be effective for advising students into mathematics courses. We developed a placement examination for the introductory computer science course. The first administrations of the introductory computer science placement examination was to entering freshmen minority students enrolled in a Summer Bridge Academic Success Program and to entering freshmen women enrolled in a women’s Summer Bridge Academic Success Program. These programs were held right before the fall semester began. In the Fall of 2002, the placement examination was taken in two sections of the introductory Java class taught by one of the co-authors. Students who scored very low on the examination were advised to take an introductory one hour course to enable them to be prepared to take the Java class. Students who scored in the middle range were advised to attend a group tutoring session held nearly every week to enable them to do well in the course.
Urban, J., & Anderson-Rowland, M., & Navabi, F., & Banks, D. (2006, June), Evaluating Self Assessment And A Placement Examination For A First Course In Computer Science: How Do Women And Minority Students Fare? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1363
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