Academic Perceptions of the Ideal Computer Science Student

Hannah Thinyane


This paper presents the results of a case study aimed at identifying the skills that lecturers in a computer science department value in an undergraduate student, and to determine if there is a departmental construction of an ‘ideal’ student. To answer this question, a case study was undertaken in the Computer Science Department at a small university in South Africa. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire and to take part in an interview to solicit feedback on their notion of an ‘ideal’ student. This study found that participants valued the following skills within undergraduate student: creativity; computer playfulness; planning, analytical or abstract thinking, and problem solving; introverted personality; engagement in class; working independently; self efficacy; and responsibility. It also found a strong correlation between participant’s own performance as a student and their understanding of an ‘ideal’ student. These results are then discussed within the context of South African Higher Education, where student populations are becoming more diverse. The paper calls for academics to reflect on their own teaching, and the relevance of their practices to the present conditions of transformation in Higher Education in South Africa.


higher education, computer science, ideal student

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