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Kees Leune Salvatore Petrilli, Jr.
Department of Mathematics Department of Mathematics
and Computer Science and Computer Science
Adelphi University Adelphi University
1 South Avenue 1 South Avenue
Garden City, New York 11530 USA Garden City, New York 11530 USA
DOI: 10.1145/3350744 ©2019 ACM 2153-2184/19/09 $15.00
48% increase in the number of female CS majors from Fall 2017
(n = 29) to Fall 2018 (n = 43). Due to lack of reliable data, we
are unable to make comparisons regarding other underserved
It has been over twenty years since we have seen our first-year students so involved within the Department. These are
important factors towards promoting retention and diversity
[ 7, 10].
The number of students enrolling into undergraduate comput-ing-related fields is at an all-time high, yet retention and diversity remains low. In a recent curriculum revision, we have
introduced a one-credit orientation seminar that set out to address that issue. We found that by introducing computational
thinking separately from computer programming, by instilling
a sense of community through group-based work, and by actively providing tutoring services, learning outcomes improve.
This is more notably so for female students than for males.
The main actionable conclusion learned during this study
was the importance of students perceiving that they are part of
a community. Any steps that can be taken in developing curriculum to support community building should be considered favorably. Once the sense of community establishes itself, learning outcomes improve and retention increases.
Future research may include a longitudinal study that tracks
students throughout the major after completing the Seminar.
The data could provide some true insight behind the low retention rates and what departments can do to help improve student success within CS/IS majors.
Table 1: Topics covered in the Computing Orientation Seminar.
Topics covered in the Computing Orientation Seminar
Academics Fields of application
• The Department • Game Programming
• Being a Successful Student • Cybersecurity
• Academic Integrity and Honesty • Software Engineering
Computational thinking Emerging fields
• Everything is a number • Data Science
• A Strategy for Problem Solving • Scientific Computing
Computational disciplines Skill development
• Computer Science (CS) • Oral Presentation
• Computer Engineering (CE) • Writing Business Documents
• Information Systems (IS) • Academic Writing
• Information Technology (IT)
Software development Independent Research
• More than Coding
• Importance of Language