Monday, February 28, 2011

Changes to CSC110 Computer Science I

We have made a significant change to our Computer Science I course that we are very excited about.  It is currently a four-credit four hour class and our classes run almost full to 32 students per class.  We were concerned because 32 students makes it difficult to get to everyone when we are doing hands on activities, so we have decided to split the course into separate lab and lecture sections in much the same way other science classes are run.  The lecture section will be a normal three-credit three hour class and the lab will be a smaller section (limited to 22 students) containing the hands on work.

In addition, we are creating two versions of the lab: a three hour lab for majors and a two hour lab for non-majors. We hope this will improve things for both student populations.  For non-majors, this will let us focus on the challenges the material provides to students whose skills and focus may not be in this area.  For majors, we are going to use the extra hour to provide a freshman seminar experience including material about potential careers, study skills, college life skills, team building, etc.

This is a big change that was initiated as the result of our assessing the retention and failure rates in CS1 and we are hopeful that we will see significant improvement in both of those measures as a result.

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