Increasing Exposure to Programming: A Comparison of Demographic Characteristics of Students Enrolled in Introductory Computer Science Programming Courses vs. a Multidisciplinary Data Analysis Course

Jennifer Cooper, Lisa Dierker


Upward trends in programming careers and increases in programming in less traditionally computer-oriented occupations threaten to further increase the current underrepresentation of both females and individuals from racial minority groups in these disciplines. Using administrative data (2009 – 2014), the present study compares demographic characteristics of students enrolled in a course that introduced programming: a multidisciplinary data analysis course, an introductory programming course, or an introductory computer science (CS) gateway course. The multidisciplinary data analysis course enrolled significantly more female students and students with lower Math SAT scores. Females were overrepresented in the data analysis course and underrepresented in the introductory programming and CS gateway courses relative to the larger campus community, with similar findings for underrepresented minority students. Less emphasis on traditional approaches to introductory programming and increased interdisciplinary opportunities to tackle real world questions may be one way to improve access to programming experiences for students from a wider range of educational, social and economic backgrounds.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add ‘’ domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', please check your 'spam' or 'junk' folder.