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Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:59:40 -0500
text/plain (47 lines)
[said Rick]

> I really hate seeing a student drop out.  I think making
> it fun helps reduce that problem.  But it still happens.
> My Freshman dropout rate is a little more than 50% this
> semester by my current estimates.

And you're teaching VB to them, so clearly VB is not keeping
them in, is it? You guys really need to try to find out why so many
are bailing out. For whatever consolation it is to you,
I've heard of lots of 50% dropout rates in CS.

At GW our dropout rate from freshman to sophomore year is typically
25-30%; this is to be expected because a lot of students come into
CS with no clue about what it is, then bail out when they find
out there's (gasp!) math and science in it, not to mention
all the SE concepts they must get at least in the second course.

If we had anything like a 50% bailout rate, we'd be REALLY
upset and trying VERY hard to figure out why. Of course, we are
also a middle-tier private university, dependent on (very)
high tuition. Maybe KSU, as a state school, is less concerned,
because their entrance standards may (by legislative fiat)
be lower. Dunno.

And of course we are teaching Ada 95 in our first 2 courses,
so clearly an Ada-based curriculum does not, in itself, lead
to lower retention. And a VB-based one does not, in itself,
lead to higher retention.

There are lots of factors here, Rick (and everyone) - after 25
years as a full-time CS prof (and the one responsible for the first
2 courses, and an undergrad advisor, and the curriculum chair...)
I'm convinced that there are no magic bullets. I don;t think a
really good discussion of currculum development needs to degenerate
into a language war - there is MUCH more to it than that, as our
respective situations make obvious.

I hope John McCormick is reading this - I'm cc-ing him just to
be sure. He may have some things to say on this subject.

[snip]
>
> Rick

Mike

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