Research Summary ~ Note that this is not my dissertation
topic. As of this date, I have not determined a dissertation topic. This
research project is part of the requirements of the graduate course "Qualitative
Research Methods and Ethnography in Education" at West Virginia University.
Introduction - Computer Science undergraduate programs traditionally have
a high drop out rate in the first year. Yet the vast majority of these
students have the intellectual capacity to succeed in computer science.
The issue is primarily one of student motivation. Requiring all computer
science majors to attend a one hour per week computer science seminar every
semester is one of several strategies employed at Alderson-Broaddus College
in an attempt to increase student motivation to study computer science
and thereby produce more, and better educated computer science graduates.
This ethnographic or qualitative research study is for the purpose of determining
how effective this required computer science seminar is in increasing students
motivation to study computer science.
Theoretical background - Qualitative methods and ethnographic research
have been gaining attention and use in Computer Science Education research
where determining conclusive results by quantitative research methods has
proven to be very difficult if not impossible. Qualitative methods and
ethnographic research has a long history of application and continuing
evolution to meet the needs and philosophical and theoretical basis of
Previous research in the area - not determined at this time.
Goals of the research - To find effective methods of retaining and educating
undergraduate computer science students.
Current status - Interview data is currently being collected from computer
science students enrolled in the required computer science seminar.
Interim conclusions - Interviews to date seem to support the conclusion
that participation in the computer science seminar is effective in increasing
student motivation to study computer science.
Open issues - Researcher bias, sample bias, and the short term nature of
the study are some of several issues to be addressed.
Current stage in your program of study - I will have completed 21 hours
of course work in the 72 hour doctoral program in Technology Education
at West Virginia University by the end of this fall 2000 semester. I have
not finalized my "Plan of Study". I may be able to apply up to 30 hours
of my Master of Science degree credits toward the doctorate. I have not
determined a dissertation research topic. I am currently in the first semester
of a full academic year (two semester) sabbatical to pursue the doctorate
funded 1/2 by Alderson-Broaddus College and 1/2 by an Appalachian Colleges
What you hope to gain from participating in the Doctoral Consortium - I
hope to gain considerable insight into solving a number of problems associated
with succeeding in my graduate program. I attended the SIGCSE 2000 Doctoral
Consortium in Austin Texas last year and found it to be very beneficial
to my doctoral studies.
Bibliographic references - Denzin, Norman K. and Lincoln, Yvonna S. Collecting
and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. Patton, Michael Quinn, Qualitative
Evaluation and Research Methods.