I. Groher, M. Vierhauser, B. Sabitzer, L. Kuka, A. Hofer, D. Muster: Exploring Diversity in Introductory Programming Classes: An Experience Report, 44th International Conference on Software Engineering - Software Engineering Education and Training (ICSE2022-SEET), May 21-29, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, accepted for publication, 2022. Doi: 10.1145/3510456.3514155
Digitization is becoming part of almost everyone’s life, ranging from smartphones and tablets, smart devices automatically collecting information, to tools and scripting languages that are widely available, and easy to use. This has recently been reflected in various university curricula, where courses such as computational thinking, and basic programming classes are now included in a broader range of (non computer-science) programs. Such programs often face challenges in such courses due to their diverse student body, as students often lack profound digital competencies and technical background.
While gender diversity aspects have been broadly studied in the past, other diversity dimensions such as ethnicity, age, or educational background have largely been neglected. In this paper, we report on our experiences in teaching an introductory programming course to first year Business Informatics bachelor students. After undergoing fundamental changes in our teaching concepts and the provided learning material, we explore what diversity factors play an important role when teaching programming to non-computer science students, and how diversity is perceived by lecturers and tutors. Our analysis shows that a collaborative teaching concept positively supports female students and students with language barriers. Based on our findings we present lessons learned and concrete recommendations for teaching introductory programming classes to heterogeneous groups of students.