ETHistory 1855-2005 | Living memory | Departements | D-INFK | Impediments and Challenges | D-INFK | Discussing the Education Quality | 
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Discussing the Education Quality

After the first intermediate examination had been done for the first time in summer of 1982, "relatively many bad results" were noticed already: Only 56% of the candidates received marks qualifying sufficiently for the next level. One year later, this value was slightly higher with 66%. The discussions regarding the examinations continued over the years, though, being an important topic especially for the education commission.

If Niklaus Wirth, receiver of a Turing Award for his work in the field of programming languages, comments the results of the final examination of 1987 and "had to notice that many of the candidates were not able anymore to solve simple programming exercises", on could not simply put it aside. The statement was not totally new and coming out of the blue, though. Wirth had already expressed his displeasure regarding the same situation ten years earlier.

The teaching commission, then, was the place where professors as well as students discussed causes and solutions for this dissatisfying situation. Additionally, an analysis of the state of affairs was done by an external company to give more insights into reasons for the problem and ways to solve it:

The ease with which even a student without a finished study could find work on the job market during the 1980s made students - according to an expertise of 1994 - lose their focus on the courses and its contents.

When the requirements of the examinations were tightened, the failure rate of the preliminary examination rose sharply. In 1990 the climax was reached with more than 50% of failures (the normal value would be about a third). The falling number of students at the end of the 1980s is interpreted in the way that the increasing  requirements and failure rates discouraged potential students to do a degree in computer science.

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© 2005 ETH Zurich | May 25, 2005 | !!! This document is stored in the ETH Web archive and is no longer maintained !!!