When Everyone Knows CS is the Best Major: Decisions about CS in an Indian context

This is a publication of the study I worked on when I was a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in the summer of 2014. I had a lot of fun and the opportunity to interview some super smart students who had chosen CS in a much different environment than I did. I think it’s fair to say that if I was born in India, I never would have been a CS major.

Much of the existing work on student experiences in the CS major focuses on CS in American and European contexts. This paper explores the experience of CS students who — due to India’s unusual educational system, joined CS with very little knowledge about CS outside of its reputation. The study was a grounded–theory based interview study based on 20 students at 2 tiers of schools in India. Results suggest that although students generally enjoyed the CS content of their courses, they had a great deal of concern about the lack of freedom in professional programming. This is surprising considering the highly positive view of CS jobs is what initially seems to attract students to the major. We contrast this with educational findings in other contexts and discuss the educational implications of the result.

You can get the full PDF here.

Special thanks to my co-author Shitanshu Mishra who is presenting this paper at ICER.

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