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A Review of the Supports Available to Third-Level Programming Students in Ireland

Noone, Mark, Mooney, Aidan, Thompson, Amy, Galvin, Frank, Ward, Monica, Nolan, Keith, Thornbury, Emer, Andrews, John and Williams, David (2022) A Review of the Supports Available to Third-Level Programming Students in Ireland. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 14 (2). ISSN 2009-3160

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Computer Science and programming courses are generally considered to be difficult, particularly for students in the first year of a third-level course. As such, it is an important role to support these students as they begin their education in order to better cement their learning, and to reduce drop-out rates and other early issues. In Ireland, many third-level institutions offer additional dedicated supports to their Computer Science and programming students to augment the traditional lectures, tutorials, and laboratory sessions.

This paper provides a review of the current state of Computer Science Support in Ireland. It features case studies from a sample of six third-level institutions, with authors from each institution detailing the support services they offer to their students. A survey was also sent to all third-level institutions in Ireland, asking for feedback about their support services (or lack thereof). Fifteen responses were received from institutions who provide additional supports (no responses were received from institutions without).

From the results of this survey, and the authors’ personal perspectives and experience, recommendations will be made for those looking to develop their own support services, or to improve upon existing ones. Some of the key findings from this survey are that most supports in Ireland come in the form of dedicated tutors or support centres, more support is offered on average earlier in undergraduate degrees and that most respondents agree that we need to support novice programmers. Some of the recommendations include all institutions offering some form of support service, offering it as a free service and ensuring all ability levels are catered for. Advertising the service appropriately is also important.

It is the correct time to undertake such a review due to the continued growth of Computer Science as a subject, not only at third level, but now also at second level with the introduction of Computer Science to the Leaving Certificate options. Further work is ongoing in this area, with both a national group setup and an annual workshop planned to enter its second iteration in 2022.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Computer Science Education; Computer Science supports; Helpdesks; Interventions; Review paper
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General) > Information Technology > Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: School of Computing > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Tamara Malone
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2023 16:00
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2023 16:00

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