At SigCSE this year a session participant said, roughly, "research shows that there is no correlation between 'early skill' is CS and a student's ultimate success in the field." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a citation of the study or studies that came to this conclusion.

I teach high school CS and have a significant number of students for whom my class is their first significant exposure to "rigorous" CS (where "rigor" means, more or less, attempting to develop the foundational skills and confidence to go on in CS, rather than "just playing"). I also have some students in every class who are real "rock stars." I've been telling my students that they start where they start and their curiosity and persistence have a greater bearing on their success than their initial "acceleration" so I was thrilled to hear that there might be actual research that backs this up – especially if there is insight into how best to support the students who need time to build confidence and a foundation.

Have you heard of research along these lines? Any pointers on finding it?

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    $\begingroup$ Ask the session chair put you in contact with the speaker if you don't have info and then ask. But I don't think the statement is all that controversial. People learn and develop differently. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! It was a comment in a discussion and I lost track of who it was. I'm hoping to find some "big guns" to bring to bear both on counselors and the math department, but also to use to help bolster the confidence of students who try but get discouraged. $\endgroup$
    – dlu
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ And don't lose track of the fact that you aren't "training" professionals. We teach everyone math (I hope) but don't expect them to become mathematicians. But computational thinking is useful in a lot of ways, as is history, writing, and all the rest. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly, I want to "snare" the curious and intrigue them and create a space where they can start doing computational thinking and other "CSish stuff" and experience the fun and challenges that lurk within without doubting their worth as they see others for whom in seems easy. $\endgroup$
    – dlu
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ It sounds like an off-the-cuff remark, and stated so strongly that it's almost certainly untrue. How could there be no correlation, unless we also come to the conclusion that those with early, obvious talent are no more likely to pursue the field than students who struggle mightily right out the gate? $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 10:30


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