University Curriculum Committee
Proposal for Course Change
1. Is this course a Diversity or Liberal Studies Liberal Diversity Both
2. Course change effective beginning of what term and year?
(ex. Spring 2008, Summer 2008) See effective dates calendar. Fall 2009
3. College CEFNS 4. Academic Unit/Department CS
5. Current course subject/catalog number CS 126
6. Current catalog title, course description and Show the proposed changes in this column. Please
units. (Cut and paste from current on-line BOLD the changes, to differentiate from what is not
academic catalog changing.
CS 126 COMPUTER SCIENCE I (3) CS 126 COMPUTER SCIENCE I (3)
Introduces foundational principles of Introduces foundational principles of computer
computer science including object-oriented science including object-oriented
fundamentals. Letter grade only. Course fundamentals. Letter grade only. Course fee
fee required. Prerequisite or required. Prerequisite or Corequisite: MAT 125 or
Corequisite: MAT 125 or MAT 125H or MAT 125H or Math Placement 55 or higher and
Math Placement 55 or higher and Corequisite: CS 126L.
Corequisite: CS 126R
7. Is this course required or an elective in any other plan (major, minor, certificate)? Yes No
If yes, explain and provide supporting documentation from the affected departments.
8. Does this change affect community college articulation? Yes No
If yes, explain how in the justification and provide supporting documentation from the affected
Is the course a Common Course as defined by your Articulation Task Force? Yes No
If yes, has the change been approved by the Articulation Task Force? Yes No
If this course has been listed in the Course Equivalency Guide, should that listing
be left as is or be revised
If revised, how should it be revised?
IN THE FOLLOWING SECTION, COMPLETE ONLY WHAT IS CHANGING
Current course subject/catalog number Proposed course subject/catalog number
Current number of units/credits Proposed number of units/credits
Current Course Fee yes no If subject or catalog number change
Move or Delete
Current Grading Option* Proposed Grading Option*
Letter Grade Pass/Fail or Both Letter Grade Pass/Fail or Both
Current Repeat for additional Units Proposed Repeat for additional Units
Current Max number of units Proposed Max number of units
Current Prerequisite Proposed Prerequisite
Current Co-requisite Proposed Co-requisite
CS 126R CS 126L
Current Co-Convene with Proposed Co-Convene with
Current Cross List with Proposed Cross List with
Do you want to remove this course from either the Liberal Studies Course list and or the Diversity
Course list? Liberal Studies Diversity
9. Justification for course change. Please indicate how past assessments of student learning
prompted proposed changes.
This change is logically one part of an overall curricular change in the way we teach our freshman CS curriculum; the
BSCS/BSACS plan changes, co-req changes to CS126/136 and lab additions to CS126/136 are all part of this change.
High DFW rates in the freshman year have been a perennial problem in computer science, not only at NAU but
nationwide. DFW rates of 50-70% are the national norm; our DFW rates over the freshman year 126/136 sequence
have been no exception. Over the years, we have tried an lengthy sequence of curricular reforms in a persistent effort
to increase student success in this sequence, including mandating “kinder gentler” prerequisite courses, modifying the
curriculum or presentation in various ways, and (most recently) adding a required recitation section to CS126. Although
none of these experiments has proven completely successful, we feel that we have gained tremendous insights into
where the core problems lie. This curricular revision completes a broader curricular revision cycle that seeks to
address the problem.
In a nutshell, the general problem is that, due largely to packing of more and more material into the degree
program as the discipline matures and continues to grow exponentially, CS student no longer get nearly as much
exposure to guided hands-on experiences. Instead, they are left to fend for themselves, i.e., to learn --- , as computer
science continues to grow explosively, the discipline matures, and more and more must be packed into a 4-year
curriculum, CS curriculums have necessarily evolved towards a stronger focus on computer science theory and
principles, with less coverage of practical basics, e.g., hands-on programming. This is normal and appropriate in a
maturing discipline…but curriculums must be adapted accordingly. Specifically, we have come to realize that the
coverage of practical hands-on programming that has been gradually displaced by increased focus on early object-
oriented design, software engineering, and other more theoretical topics required in our evolving discipline, must
somehow be accounted for; it is the fact that this guided practical exposure has simply been dropped that DFW rates
have climbed so high among CS freshmen. The bottom line is that the basic programming skills that are one of several
key outcomes of the freshman year can not be effectively taught without closer attention to guided hands-on
Given these insights, we feel that the solution, as in so many other scientific disciplines, is to add required
laboratory sections to the introductory courses; this is where the hands-on practical exposure displaced from the
courses over the years must appear. This represents a maturing of our discipline, and is no different than the approach
taken in other sciences: it is long-established practice to require physics and chemistry students who learn about
principles in the class to exercise those principles in lab. Similarly, electrical engineering students learning circuit
theory explore the reality of actual circuits in labs. The curricular modifications requested here reflect a national
recognition and trend towards a similar model in computer science.
In sum, we are requesting to add laboratory sections to our two-course introductory sequence, resulting in the
following curricular changes:
Program change to BSBS/BSACS. Both require CS126/136 and must thus be changed to show the required
lab as a program requirement.
Addition of CS126L and CS136L. Create the new lab sections, as co-requisites tightly tied to the lecture. The
intent is that anyone taking the course must also take the lab. Exceptions may be granted on an individual
basis to students from other majors (that don’t choose to require the lab in their programs) or students having
passed the lab but not the class on a previous attempt.
Deletion of CS126R. This recitation was a preceding attempt to solve this problem at lowest possible cost.
While it showed promise, it is clear that students need more than 1-hour a week of practical exposure to
succeed. Thus, this recitation is essentially replaced by the CS126L.
In sum, we feel that this change is key in our efforts to improve retention and student success in our freshman
sequence. We have already invested substantially in this sequence with our new CS110 “preparatory” course (which is
showing some early success); this change will complete our restructuring of this challenging introductory year of
computer science study.
Department Chair/ Unit Head (if appropriate)/ Date
Chair of college curriculum committee/Date
Dean of college/Date
For Committee use only
For University Curriculum Committee/Date
taken: approved as submitted approved as modified