Taught Introduction to Programming the first time, ca. 47% to 74% passed. Is that good?

This semester, I taught Introduction to Programming for students in the WIN (information systems) study programme. I had 62 students signed up for the exam today, and only 29 of them passed. Should I be worried?

Based on feedback from students who had taken the class in previous years, I had introduced some changes to how lectures and exercises were offered. I cut GUI programming from the list of topics (least relevant of all topics in the class), I used several sessions with slow live coding during lectures, I had some quizzes on recently taught material, I integrated an email reminder-based learning tool, and I gave more exercise opportunities. Way more. Based on the information at hand, students had about 8-10 times the number of exercise assignments before taking the exam compared to previous years.

Of 62 students that had signed up for the exam, 39 showed up. Some had apparently dropped out of the programme mid-semester, others had become ill on short notice. Of the 39 that showed up, 29 passed the exam. That is a success rate of 74% which seems to be ok historically. Some of the students who did not pass I had expected to pass based on their performance in the weeks preceding the exam. They will do fine in the re-take exam in March, I believe.

One indicator I was worried about was the number of hours students had said they put into class. For an 8 ECTS class, I calculate as follows: 8 ECTS = 8 x 30 h = 240 h of student work; done in the 15 weeks of a semester this translates into 16 h of student work for my class per week on average during the semester. In questionnaires, the median was around 8 h of student work. What was probably more troublesome was that the official questionnaire distributed by the department uses a scale that has a maximum of 12 h of student work for a class per week. Go figure.

About Author: Hanno Langweg

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