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Assessments - Computer Science

Developing and validating reliable assessment instruments is a long process involving investigation of student difficulties, designing questions which can reliably uncover these difficulties, interviewing faculty about the appropriateness of the questions, pilot testing with students (both individual interviews and large scale in-class testing), performing statistical analysis, question refinement (addition/change/removal) and re-testing. It takes years of development effort to create and validate reliable assessment instruments and in order to ensure that these assessment instruments do not lose their reliability (for example, by answers showing up in online forums) it is important that:
1. students are not given copies following administration of the assessment tool and
2. questions are not incorporated into web-based question delivery systems without adequate security to prevent printing or unauthorized access by students.
For a list of important and difficult concepts in introductory computer science courses, see Goldman K. et al, Identifying Important and Difficult Concepts in Introductory Computing Courses using a Delphi Process, Proceedings of the 39th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education, 256-260 (2008).
In the paper below, researchers have used a Delphi process to identify the core concepts and topics which are important and difficult in three introductory computer science courses: discrete mathematics, programming fundamentals and logic design. The topic rankings described in the paper can be useful in developing concept inventories for these courses.
Content-based Assessments
Affect and Attitudes about Computer Science
  • Computer Science Attitude Survey
    • Instrument which can be used to assess student attitudes toward computer programming and computer science in general on five subscales: Confidence in learning computer science and programming, Attitude toward success in computer science, Computer Science as a male domain, Usefulness of computer science and programming, Effective motivation in computer science and programming

Computer Science and Programming Self-efficacy

If we missed some assessments developed by computer science education researchers, please let us know at