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Measuring the Impact of Unique Entry-Level Instructional Course Modules Designed to Inspire Computer Science Interest

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Emerging Computing and Information Technologies I

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Araceli Martinez Ortiz Texas State University - San Marcos

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Araceli Martinez Ortiz, PhD., is Research Assistant Professor of Engineering Education in the College of Education at Texas State University. She leads a comprehensive research agenda related to issues of curriculum and instruction in engineering education, motivation and preparation of under served populations of students and teachers and in assessing the impact of operationalizing culturally responsive teaching in the STEM classroom. As executive director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research, she collaborates on various state and national STEM education programs and is PI on major grant initiatives through NASA MUREP and NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education and NSF DUE . Araceli holds Engineering degrees from The University of Michigan and Kettering University. She holds a Masters degree in Education from Michigan State and a PhD in Engineering Education from Tufts University.

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Mina Guirguis Texas State University

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Mina Guirguis is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Texas State University, which he joined in 2006. His research is broadly driven by the interplay of security, networks and stochastic control with research contributions in the areas of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Networks and Computing Systems, and Mobile Cloud Computing. His research work has been published in over forty refereed papers, posters and journals, and one book chapter. Guirguis' research and educational activities are funded with over $2.9M in grants from the NSF, DoD, AFOSR, IEEE, Cisco and Texas State. Guirguis received the NSF CAREER award in 2012.

Guirguis has been a visiting faculty researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the summers of 2012 and 2013. During the academic year 2014/2015 he joined the Mobile and Pervasive Computing Group in the ECE Dept. at UT Austin. Guirguis has a wide range of industrial experience at various companies including Fortress Technologies and Microsoft. He has served on various Technical Program Committees for many conferences, on NSF panels and on the Editorial Board for the International Journal on Advances in Networks and Services. Guirguis is serving as an Academic Alliance Member for NCWIT.

Guirguis earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science and Automatic Control at Alexandria University in 1999, his M.A. in Computer Science at Boston University in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Boston University in 2007 under Azer Bestavros and Ibrahim Matta.

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Recent research regarding university student perceptions of “Computer Science” as a field of study and their motivation to pursue such studies as a career opportunity reveal student misconceptions and lack of motivation. Many students report that they regard the study of computer science as narrowly equivalent to “programming”. Moreover, many are not consistently provided the opportunity to realize the true impact of the field within their entry-level courses since these early courses tend to focus on programming and syntax skill development. It is not until they are in their upper-level courses that they gain a broader understanding and by then, many of them have already left the field. It is hypothesized that this lack of clarity of the field at an early point in students’ academic career, coupled with the perception that the curriculum is largely irrelevant to their lives, has impacted the retention rates of computer science majors in the first two years of their academic study programs. This paper will report on a preliminary stage of a comprehensive project effort that aims to improve retention rates for computer science students in their entry-level courses through the development of course modules intended for inclusion in their entry-level curriculum. The theoretical basis for these modules will be reviewed and the design framework for the development of these models is discussed. The aim of these models is to highlight the difference between Computer Science and Programming, to show the relevance of Computer Science in recent advances in various fields, and to inspire students to appreciate Computer Science and the role of algorithms in our daily lives. The modules will cover various topics about the role of CS in cyber warfare, understanding biology, electronic voting, etc. In subsequent work, these modules will be launched as part of a mixed methods study to determine their effectiveness as compared to a control group not learning through these models and the impact of those modules on the retention rates of Computer Science majors

Ortiz, A. M., & Guirguis, M. (2016, June), Measuring the Impact of Unique Entry-Level Instructional Course Modules Designed to Inspire Computer Science Interest Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25707

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