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Enhancing the First Year Learning Experience in Computer Science (2010/11)

Published on: Thu, 05/06/2010
Last Modified: Fri, 06/17/2011 - 2:18pm

$20,000 base

This proposal will help identify students experiencing difficulty in their first year and of computer science programs provide extended academic support. First year students join the School of Computer Science at the University after fulfilling the requirements for academic preparation for Computer Science programs, and they come expect to complete their program of interest.   However, at the end of their first year of study, many of these students withdraw or are put on academic probation. By the second year, more than 25% of the previous first year class is no longer enrolled in a Computer Science program. The proposal will establish a group senior student mentors and encourage undergraduate students to become involved in research groups and academic clubs.

Update: November 30, 2010

In order to extend academic support, 8 undergraduate students have been employed for 4-6 hrs/week for tutoring. For enhanced study spaces, they have been able to provide an office for study space and are in the process of purchasing two PCs with printers at a cost of approximately $2,000. They have also integrated the use of mentors to support 3 study groups. Although difficult to determine the effects, an overall improvement of average scores has been noted, and a lower attrition rate than last year and improved average performance of 1st and 2nd year students is expected. No changes have been made to the initial objectives of the proposal. Anticipated spending to the end of the fiscal year is $20,000. A low amount of budget expended to October 31st is due to the fact that tutors and mentors were in the process of being selected, and contracts had not yet been finalized.

Update: April 30, 2011

In order to extend academic support tutoring, 7 high-achieving senior undergraduate students were employed for 4 to 6 hours each per week during the Winter 2011 semester to provide tutoring services for undergraduate CS courses. The initiative continued to provide enhanced study spaces by making available an office on the 8th Floor of Lambton Tower which contains books donated by faculty and which is available to undergraduate students as a resource room. Mentors have been integrated in the formation of study groups. These mentors help coordinate and provide support for three study groups: a new "ACM Programming Competition group", a new "Web Technology" group, and a new "Artificial Intelligence" group. The formation of these groups should reduce the number of high-achieving students who leave Windsor to transfer to more high-profile Computer Science. The study groups will also provide a more exciting environment for those students who need encouragement to stay in the program, rather than leaving for jobs in industry before completing their studies. Funds were spent on awards and catering for an undergraduate awards ceremony to recognize the achievements of undergraduate students whose performance placed them on the “Director’s Role” and also those students who obtained NSERC USRA awards, and who contributed to research.

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