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Facilitating student learning in Computer Science: large class sizes and interventions

Author Keith Nolan, Aidan Mooney, Susan Bergin
Abstract Learning to program is difficult with many students struggling to master fundamental abstract concepts. This results in high dropout and failure rates on computer science and information technology degrees as programming tends to be one of the first modules taken. At Maynooth University (MU) the number of students taking introductory programming modules has increased by 300% in the last ten years. Coupled with this is a large increase in student diversity most notably in academic ability and motivation for pursing a first year course in computer science. This paper documents numerous interventions implemented at the department of Computer Science at MU in an attempt to improve engagement, performance and student learning experience. A brief overview of each intervention is provided. A longer synopsis of our most sustainable intervention to date is described. The paper concludes with recommendations for other institutions on how best to implement this intervention when faced with a similar problem.
Keywords Programming, first year, diversity, large class sizes, interventions
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2015
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