Pass rates in STEM disciplines including computing

Simon, Andrew Luxton-Reilly, Vangel Ajanovski, Eric Fouh, Chris Gonsalvez, Juho Leinonen, Jack Parkinson, Matthew Poole, Neena Thota

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther

1 Citation (Scopus)


Vast numbers of publications in computing education begin with the premise that programming is hard to learn and hard to teach. Many papers note that failure rates in computing courses, and particularly in introductory programming courses, are higher than their institutions would like. Two highly distinct research projects have established that average success rates in introductory programming courses world-wide are in the region of 67%. However, there is little published work comparing pass rates in computing courses with those in other STEM disciplines. As institutions continually ask computing educators to justify the atypical failure rates in their courses, a thoroughly researched comparison of this sort could prove useful in demonstrating whether the phenomenon is real, and, if so, whether it extends somewhat beyond the boundaries of individual institutions. This working group will gather information on pass rates in computing courses, particularly introductory programming courses, and in courses at comparable levels in other STEM disciplines. Members of the group will be required to gather the information from their own institutions, and further data will be gathered by way of a broad survey. The data will be analysed to see whether global patterns can be established, and the group will survey the literature to gather and summarise postulated explanations for any difference between pass rates in computing and in other STEM disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2019 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education
EditorsArnold Pears, Mihaela Sabin
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9781450363013
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education 2019 - Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Jul 201917 Jul 2019
Conference number: 24th (Proceedings)


ConferenceAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education 2019
Abbreviated titleITiCSE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • CS1
  • Failure rate
  • Introductory programming
  • ITiCSE working group
  • Pass rate
  • STEM disciplines

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