CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Martha Snyder

Abstract

Research in academia and industry continues to identify a decline in enrollment in computer science. One major component of this decline in enrollment is a shortage of female students. The primary reasons for the gender gap presented in the research include lack of computer experience prior to their first year in college, misconceptions about the field, negative cultural stereotypes, lack of female mentors and role models, subtle discriminations in the classroom, and lack of self-confidence (Pollock, McCoy, Carberry, Hundigopal, & You, 2004). Male students are also leaving the field due to misconceptions about the field, negative cultural stereotypes, and a lack of self-confidence. Analysis of first year attrition revealed that one of the major challenges faced by students of both genders is a lack of problem-solving skills (Beaubouef, Lucas & Howatt, 2001; Olsen, 2005; Paxton & Mumey, 2001).

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether specific, non-mathematical problem-solving instruction as part of introductory programming courses significantly increased computer programming self-efficacy and achievement of students.

The results of this study showed that students in the experimental group had significantly higher achievement than students in the control group. While this shows statistical significance, due to the effect size and disordinal nature of the data between groups, care has to be taken in its interpretation. The study did not show significantly higher programming self-efficacy among the experimental students. There was not enough data collected to statistically analyze the effect of the treatment on self-efficacy and achievement by gender. However, differences in means were observed between the gender groups, with females in the experimental group demonstrating a higher than average degree of self-efficacy when compared with males in the experimental group and both genders in the control group. These results suggest that the treatment from this study may provide a gender-based increase in self-efficacy and future research should focus on exploring this possibility.

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