A Survey of the Prior Programming Experience of Undergraduate Computing and Engineering Students in Ireland

  • Glenn Strong
  • Catherine Higgins
  • Nina Bresnihan
  • Richard Millwood
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 515)


It has become apparent that increasing numbers of students arriving into undergraduate computing and engineering degree programmes in Irish 3rd-level institutions have prior experience of computer programming. As the extent of this prior exposure as well as its nature, origins, and usefulness is not known beyond anecdotal evidence, an annual survey of prior programming experience of freshman undergraduates who study programming as part of their degree has been designed and administered. This paper reports on the first two years of this survey in 2015 and 2016. It found that around one third had some prior experience of programming with nearly half of that group reporting a reasonable level of fluency in one or more languages. The authors expect that the effect of proposed changes to primary and 2nd-level curricula alongside the increasing popularity of informal programming clubs will be increasingly felt in coming years and therefore plan to continue and extend the survey in order to clarify the effect of such developments. The results should be of interest to 3rd-level educators in the planning of curriculum and teaching practice.


Computer science education Programming experience CS1 



The authors would like to thank our colleagues at various institutions in Ireland who have circulated the survey to their students.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn Strong
    • 1
  • Catherine Higgins
    • 2
  • Nina Bresnihan
    • 1
  • Richard Millwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Dublin Institute of TechnologyDublinIreland

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