Document Type


Publication Date



student retention, Computer Science, Alice, 3D visual programming environment


Student retention in Computer Science is becoming a serious concern among Educators in many colleges and universities. Most institutions currently face a significant drop in enrolment in Computer Science. A number of different tools and strategies have emerged to address this problem (e.g., BlueJ, Karel Robot, etc.). Although these tools help to minimize attrition, they have not made significant improvements to this widespread problem. A newcomer to the scene called Alice has been met with positive results by captivating student interest through its rich 3D visual programming environment. During the fall of 2005, Alice, a newly published textbook, and numerous resources were used in Computer Science I at McMaster University. This paper provides an overview of Alice, an assessment of this new course including qualitative surveys, informal observations, and quantitative analysis including student performance score results. Despite numerous technical problems, it was found that the Alice Group exceeded the performance of Comparison Groups: F(1,93) = 30.322, p < .001 (between C1 and Alice group); F(1,81) = 4.182, p = .044 (between C2 and Alice Group).


Faculty of Applied Science & Technology


School of Applied Computing


Journal of Educational Computing Research



Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Sykes, E. R. (2007). Determining the effectiveness of the 3D Alice programming environment at the computer science I level. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 36(2), 223-44. doi: 10.2190/J175-Q735-1345-270M


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