Information systems students continue to struggle to successfully complete computer programming classes. Learning how to program is difficult, and failure and attrition rates in college level programming classes remain at an unacceptably high rate. Since many IS students take a programming course as part of their program of study, IS educators should better understand why IS students tend to achieve low success rates in programming courses and what can be done to improve success rates. Little research to date has addressed potential reasons for student failure in programming principles courses. Many educators simply assume that high failure rates are acceptable - that computer programming is difficult and some students simply will not succeed. Some researchers have studied personality as a predictor of success in computer programming courses. However, no studies have attempted to gather cognitive profiles and match performance to profile type exhibited. In our study, we identified the primary cognitive profile in a sample of beginning programming students in a southeastern university and matched profile to final average in programming principles I. Intuitive thinkers tended to perform better in programming principles I than sensor feelers. We found no other differences in performance between profile types. We recommend instructional strategies that may be used to reach fully motivated and intellectually capable sensor feelers, while not detracting from the learning experience of the other profiles.
Journal of Information Systems Education