Motivational Factors Affecting Computer Science Enrollment

Lee Kenneth Jones, Jessica J. Gottlieb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Internationally, the interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, has led many countries to enact education policies aimed at generating more attention to STEM careers among its primary and secondary students. Driven by the supposed need for more STEM field workers, the movement has perhaps failed to look closely at what it is that drives the need and where the actual needs lie. Within the STEM career field lies jobs from nurse to field biologist to civil engineer to computer programmer [7]. However, there is also a large demand for computer science, field that is often swallowed up by the larger STEM interest. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics [2], computing jobs will make up 66% of all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs between 2014-2024 in the United States. However, only 8.48% of college STEM majors are in the computer science (CS) field [2] and there are over 500,000 unfilled computing jobs in the United States alone, but less than 50,000 CS graduates [3]. With the documented need for more CS workers, matched with very little primary and secondary CS education research and slow movements to enact policy, we have reached a critical point where it is important to understand more about what factors motivate students to enter the CS career field and how educators can use these factors to help direct and support more students to fill the important job sector that so desperately needs skilled employees. Using the expectancy-value theory (EVT) as a framework, this poster presents a study that looks at factors that could serve as predictors for enrollment in high school CS electives. EVT posits that individuals who are given options, particularly around course and career choices, make their decision based on how they expect to perform at the task and what value they see it having in their life. Value can be further broken into utility value, intrinsic value, attainment value, and cost [4, 5, 9]. This framework for understanding student motivations for STEM has been used and validated multiple times [1, 6, 8], so this study hopes to build on that proven reliability to understand student motivations with regard to CS. Using the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009) This poster presents a work-in-progress that looks at what factors during the ninth grade (first year secondary) year are predictors of a student's enrollment in any CS course during high school.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCompEd 2019 - Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Global Computing Education
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9781450362597
StatePublished - May 9 2019
Event2019 ACM Global Computing Education Conference, CompEd 2019 - Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Duration: May 17 2019May 19 2019

Publication series

NameCompEd 2019 - Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Global Computing Education


Conference2019 ACM Global Computing Education Conference, CompEd 2019
CityChengdu, Sichuan


  • CS education
  • K-12 education
  • Motivation theory


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