Gender Differences in Computer Science Education: Lessons Learnt from an Empirical Study at NTNU

  • Ilias O. Pappas NTNU
  • Trond Aalberg NTNU
  • Michail N. Giannakos NTNU
  • Letizia Jaccheri NTNU
  • Patrick Mikalef NTNU
  • Guttorm Sindre NTNU


Research in Computer Science (CS) education has focused on gender differences and there is high interest in increasing female participation in CS. The present study reviews important factors that influence CS students’ decision to complete their studies in CS (retention), and empirically examines how these factors differ for males and females. To this end, we identify cognitive and non-cognitive gains, cognitive and affective engagement, motivation to study, and three different barriers as critical factors in CS students’. We test these factors on 236 Norwegian CS students in order to find any potential gender differences. The findings indicate a gender difference for cognitive gains, affective engagement, motivation to study, and satisfaction with learning effectiveness. On the other hand, no difference was found for non-cognitive gains, cognitive engagement, personal values/teaching quality, and students’ intention to dropout from their studies. The study concludes with implications that will guide both research and practice towards a better understanding of both male and female CS students.
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