Explorations in computing: Could this be the key to retention?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science


Retention has traditionally been an issue in many introductory computing courses and major degree programs. In Fall 2013 we saw an anomaly with particularly high persistence and success rates among students in our majors-only explorations course. A close examination revealed a similarly higher than usual success and persistence rate by our majors in the first programing course they were taking simultaneously with the explorations course. These successes were presumably related to the better than usual retention of first year students within our Department from the first to second semester. This paper presents the curriculum changes and analyses the change in student performance. The relationship between our curriculum changes and what other researchers have observed are examined in an effort to identify the reasons for the increased student persistence. The potential for either a positive or negative interplay between our two courses is also discussed. Insights from these findings that may be of use to others are presented.

Publisher's Statement

© 2014 IEEE. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2014.7044198

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE