Pair formation in CS1: Self -selection vs random pairing

Aurelia T Williams, Pace University


Attrition in Computer Science education is at its highest level in the last 20 years. Many researchers are searching for practices to decrease the attrition rate nationwide. Pair programming has been borrowed from industry and placed in today's computer science academic environment. Many studies have shown that pair programming increases students' confidence levels and aids in the retention of those students that have selected computer science as their academic major. This research builds on this premise and investigates the effects of self-selection and random methods of pair formation. These methods of pair formation were used in beginning computer science courses at a historically black college and university (HBCU) to statistically demonstrate that students prefer to self-select their partner. Honoring this preference aids in the students overall satisfaction with beginning CS courses therefore decreasing the students possibility of changing their academic major. Data will show that in a CS1 course, the election to implement random or self-selection pair formation is trivial and students will perform equally whether the pairs are assigned or self-selected, however self-selection aids in the satisfaction of a student and therefore impacts their decision to retain computer science as their major.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Williams, Aurelia T, "Pair formation in CS1: Self -selection vs random pairing" (2007). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3281992.



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