How students measure up: An assessment instrument for introductory computer science
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This dissertation presents an assessment instrument specifically designed for programming-first introductory sequences in computer science as given in Computing Curricula 2001: Computer Science Volume. The first-year computer science course has been the focus of many recent innovations and many recent debates in the computer science curriculum. There is significant disagreement as to effective methodology in the first year of computing, and there has been no shortage of ideas as to what predicts student success in the first year of the computing curriculum. However, most investigations into predictors of success lack an appropriately validated assessment instrument to support or refute their findings. This is presumably due to the fact that there are very few validated assessment instruments available for assessing student performance in the first year of computing instruction. The instrument presented here is not designed to test particular language constructs, but rather the underlying principles of the first year of computing instruction. It has been administered to students at the end of their first year of an introductory computer science curriculum. Data needed for analysis of the instrument for reliability and validity was collected and analyzed. Use of this instrument enables validated assessment of student progress at the end of their first year, and also enables the study of further innovations in the curriculum for the first year computer science courses.