On Self-Selected Pairing in CS1: Who Pairs with Whom?

Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 24(6):43-49, .

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Abstract

In recent years, we have seen an increased use of pair programming in CS-1 courses. Widespread evidence shows pair programming as beneficial at all levels of programming skill. During three academic years, we studied what students in CS-1 choose when given the option to either pair program or to program independently. We explore which students choose to pair and how often, and examine the majors and academic years of the self-selected pairs. Among our objectives is to learn about student pair preferences to help guide the assignment of partners when mandatory pair programming is used. We show that Math majors are more likely than Computer Science/Information Systems (CS/IS) majors to prefer pair programming in CS-1. Math majors prefer pairing with Math majors. CS/IS majors more often choose to pair with non-majors, perhaps indicating self-chosen mentoring roles.