What Do CS1 Syllabi Reveal About Our Expectations of Introductory Programming Students?
10:10 AM - 10:35 AM
Sat Mar 2, 2019
Hyatt: Greenway B/C (2nd floor)


A well-received ITiCSE 2016 paper challenged the orthodox view that programming is hard to learn. It contended that CS1 educators' expectations are too high, which can result in poor teaching and learning, and could impact negatively on diversity and equity. The author posed a challenge to the community to collect research-based evidence of what novice programmers can achieve, and use evidence to derive realistic expectations for achievement.

We argue that before rising to this challenge we must determine: What exactly do educators expect of introductory programming students? This paper presents our efforts toward answering this question. We manually curated hundreds of CS1 syllabi, providing a fresh perspective of expectation in CS1 courses. We analyzed learning outcomes and their concepts, in addition to languages utilized and other useful CS1 design and delivery information.

This work contributes to a current picture of what is expected of introductory programming students, and provides an interactive online tool linked to all collected syllabi and containing all learning outcomes and other associated information. We hope this will aid the community in deciding whether or not we have unrealistic expectations of our CS1 students and if so, our contributions provide a starting point for the community to adjust them.

Brett A. Becker University College Dublin
Thomas Fitzpatrick University College Dublin

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