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Retention in the First Programming Course: A Context Based Approach

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First Year Computing Topics

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Krishnendu Ghosh Miami University

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Krishnendu Ghosh received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering in 2012 from University of Cincinnati and his masters degree in mathematics from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2001). He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Computer and Information Technology Department at Miami University. His research interests include cyber security and formal verification.

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Michele D Dickey Miami University

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Michele D. Dickey is a professor and program coordinator for the Instructional Design & Technology program in the Department of Educational Psychology at Miami University. Her research interests focus is on the intersection of technology and learning design.

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Laurena Werner Miami University

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Laurena (a.k.a. Laurie) Werner is currently a retired and rehired Associate Professor in the Computer and Information Technology Department and an affiliate of the Computer Science and Software Engineering department at Miami University. She has been a member of the faculty since 1979. Her research interests are computer science pedagogy, and information assurance.

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Introductory computer programming courses are often comprised of diverse student populations in preparedness, motivation, and majors. This paper present a study of context based projects in the first computer programming course. The course is required for majors in computer science and engineering and is an elective course for students in the associate degree program in information technology and for other non-majors. Data from prior semesters shows at least twenty percent of the students stop attending classes after the second midterm, held approximately four weeks before the end of the semester – often resulting in those students failing the course.

An intervention in the form of a context based project was introduced in the course with the aim to increase student engagement. Each student worked on a semester long project based on his or her interests. The context is student interests.

A set of scaffolding assignments was introduced in the course to build and implement the project. After each assignment, instructor feedback was provided to the student. The set of assignments were divided into two parts: the Prototype phase and the Implementation phase.

Data from voluntary surveys and student reflections collected at the end of prototype phase and implementation phase and before and after the introduction of context based project revealed that students were engaged and had a positive experience while working on the project. The retention in the course was higher in the semesters that included context based project.

Ghosh, K., & Dickey, M. D., & Werner, L. (2017, June), Retention in the First Programming Course: A Context Based Approach Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28803

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