Initiatives in TU Dublin and Princeton Increase student retention in Computer Science

17 Nov, 2020

Non-completion by students on Computer Science programmes internationally has encouraged many universities to look at the range of possible causes and to develop initiatives to change the pattern.

One such initiative is currently taking place in TU Dublin and Princeton University with academics from both universities evaluating approaches that show promising results in helping students to complete their studies successfully. 

Dr Keith Quille, Eileen Costelloe and Dr Keith Nolan from the Computer Science Inclusive group (CS Inc) in TU Dublin and Dr Soohyun Nam Liao from the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University are collaborating in an interesting experiment this semester. They have changed places to work with 1st-year students of Computer Science in each other’s university so as to establish whether their locally successful initiatives can be shown to be effective internationally.

While working on his doctorate in Maynooth University, Dr. Quille developed PreSS#, an early warning system for students at risk of failing or dropping out of their Computer Science programme.   This system is now being used with early Computer Science students at Princeton University.

Meanwhile, Dr Soohyun Nam Liao is working with students currently studying Computer Science in TU Dublin at Tallaght. Dr. Nam Liao is replicating Compass, a study she had carried out previously with students in Princeton University. The study provides students with personalised feedback as they progress, and earlier results showed that students’ metacognitive skills improved.

Congratulating the team on their interesting collaboration, the President of TU Dublin, Professor David FitzPatrick said he was very interested in the studies taking place.  “We want all of our students to have the pleasure of exploring the areas that attracted them to their course of study in the first place and the satisfaction of completing and graduating successfully.  This collaboration shows academic teams putting research into their pedagogic practice to help students improve outcomes. I look forward to seeing the results from both universities.”

Both initiatives have been published internationally and demonstrate a determination to move from ideas to well-founded research and to critically review its potential for impact in society in a meaningful way.