Trends in CS Enrollments at Small, Liberal Arts Colleges

April 4, 2013 at 1:44 am 1 comment

Great to see some data on what’s going on at smaller schools, not just in the doctoral-granting institutions.  On average, as much of an upswing as what’s reported in the Taulbee, but not all schools reporting increases.  Interesting analyses of what’s working and what’s not.

What contributes to the program’s success? Faculty involvement, quality teaching, and enthusiasm for undergraduate research. Flexibility with prerequisites and independent studies. Outreach. Interdisciplinary projects. Growing knowledge/visibility about CS and its broad usefulness, including awareness among faculty colleagues. The job market. Multiple introductory courses/sections. Inclusion in general distribution requirements. Becoming a separate department. Stable set of faculty. Students choosing first-semester courses themselves.

Decline?  External forces/national trends. Not enough faculty to offer enough spaces in lower level courses. Faculty turnover. Student rumor mill (regarding a potential cut).

via Trends in CS Enrollments at Small, Liberal Arts Colleges (BoF Survey Results) – Google Drive.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Max Hailperin  |  April 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Caution is in order when analyzing data about small groups of students reported by a small and self-selected group of colleges. The fact that the enrollment trends are more variable than in larger universities (in particular, “not all schools reporting increases”) is exactly what one would expect: smaller numbers are inherently more variable. If you come back a few years later, you may find the schools that did well before are now not doing so well and vice versa, with only some of those changes being explainable in terms in such positive factors as “faculty involvement” or negative factors such as “student rumor mill.” I consider an absolutely essential paper about the dangers of such analysis to be the one Brad Richards published in SIGCSE 2009 regarding the representation of women in CS. (Disclosure: I encouraged Brad to write that paper.)


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