Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



2020 Copyright is held by the owner/authors.


Paper Session: Student Experiences SIGCSE ’20, March 11–14, 2020, Portland, OR, USA


Increasing retention in computer science (CS) courses is a goal of many CS departments. A key step to increasing retention is to understand the factors that impact the likelihood students will continue to enroll in CS courses. Prior research on retention in CS has mostly examined factors such as prior exposure to programming and students’ personality characteristics, which are outside the control of undergraduate instructors. This study focuses on factors within the control of instructors, namely, instructional practices that directly impact students’ classroom experiences. Participants were recruited from 25 sections of 14 different courses over 4 semesters. A multi-level model tested the effects of individual and class-average perceptions of cooperative learning and teacher directedness on the probability of subsequent enrollment in a CS course, while controlling for students’ mastery of CS concepts and status as a CS major. Results indicated that students’ individual perceptions of instructional practices were not associated with retention, but the average rating of cooperative learning within a course section was negatively associated with retention. Consistent with prior research, greater mastery of CS concepts and considering or having declared a CS major were associated with a higher probability of taking a future CS courses. Implications for findings are discussed.