The emphasis on Java and other commercial languages in CS1 has established the perception of computer science as a dry and technically difficult discipline among undecided students who are still seeking careers. This may not be a big problem during an enrolment boom, but in times of decreased enrolment such negative perception may have a devastating effect on computer science programs and therefore should not be ignored. We have made our CS1 course offerings more attractive to students (1) by introducing an easy to learn yet effective scripting language - Python, (2) by making all course resources available in a comprehensive online study pack, and (3) by offering an extensive set of detailed and easy to follow self-guided labs. Our custom-designed online study pack comprises a wealth of new, original learning modules: extensive e-texts, detailed self-guided labs, numerous sample programs, quizzes, and slides. Our recent student survey demonstrates that students like and prefer Python as a first language and that they also percept the online study pack as very beneficial. Our "Python First" course, originally required for computer science majors, has been so well received that it has been recently approved as a general education science elective, thus opening new recruitment opportunities for the computer science major. Our "Python First" digital pack is published online at http://studypack.com.
Radenski, A. Python First: A Lab-Based Digital Introduction to Computer Science. Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE 06, University of Bologna, Italy, June 26-28, 2006, ACM Press, 197- 201. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/ 1140123.1140177.
Association for Computing Machinery