Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Higher Education Leadership


Leah Hakkola

Second Committee Member

Penny Rheingans

Third Committee Member

Kathleen Gillon

Additional Committee Members

Elizabeth Allan


This study examined student perceptions and experiences of an introductory Computer Science course at the University of Maine; COS 125: Introduction to Problem Solving Using Computer Programs. It also explored the pathways that students pursue after taking COS 125, depending on their success in the course, and their motivation to persist. Through characterizing student populations and their performance in their first semester in the Computer Science program, they can be placed into one of three categories that explain their path; a “continuer” (passed COS 125 and decided to stay in the major), a “persister” (did not pass COS 125 and decided to stay in the major), or a “withdrawer” (left the major regardless of their grade). After categorizing student populations based on their characteristics and chosen pathway, identifying behaviors of successful students will assist in making suggestions for future students to ensure their success. While there are current obstacles in the Computer Science field that affect student success (e.g. lack of preparation, self-efficacy, and family background), the creation of a model will help to predict student pathways and assist in the success and retention of future cohorts. Based on the findings, suggestions are provided to assess the actions and characteristics of students helps to create suggestions for students who need support in their pursuit to achieve a Computer Science degree.