Picture of Natalie Stephenson

Natalie Stephenson

September 11, 2017

What Undergraduate Students Have To Say About Computer Science Curriculum Delivery

Since 2014, Mimir Classroom, a computer science education technology platform, has been adopted by more than 70 universities across the U.S. This summer, my internship on the sales and marketing team pushed me to better understand how to grow adoption of Mimir’s cloud-based platform among our target personas. That led me to craft a survey that was delivered to 100 computer science students throughout the nation.

Mimir’s outreach strategy has been focused on addressing pain-points of higher education instructors and students. Mimir Classroom was built to shorten grading times, reduce plagiarism, offer course analytics, and grant instructors customization in their coursework delivery — all while giving students more one-on-one time with their instructors. Although this was effective, I began to wonder how receptive instructors would be to Mimir Classroom if we altered our outreach to focus on enhancing the student experience instead of reducing the time they spent managing a course.

Shortly after this thought, my sales manager coached me to watch Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Ted Talk to then craft a prospect call script. After watching the video on YouTube I realized our sales team wasn’t selling why Mimir Classroom was built. I then developed a “why, how, what” approach for the team to utilize while selling.

SimonSinek'sGoldenCircle+MimirA rendition of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. © MimirHQ

I shifted my focus to:

Why Mimir Classroom was created: Mimir’s co-founders were frustrated with the slow grading loop and lack of feedback associated with their undergraduate computer science courses.

How Mimir Classroom responded to the problem: In 2015, Mimir’s co-founders presented Mimir Classroom and earned a spot in Y Combinator(YC), a seed accelerator program based out of Silicon Valley, which procured resources and fundraising avenues.

What Mimir’s team did to combat “the problem”: The team developed Mimir Classroom to automatically grade instructor curriculum and allow instructors to provide detailed feedback to students.

With the help of my fellow intern, Geri, and Mimir’s Lead Marketer, Cara, I built and emailed a survey to 112 students* who had taken applicable programming courses at universities ranging from UC Berkeley to Georgia Tech. Following the survey, I sent personalized direct messages and completed door-to-door outreach to reach an 82% response rate.

*I set a personal goal to collect 100 responses to help make the data from this evolving case study more accurate and reputable. To reach my goal I opted to gather 21 additional responses from students enrolled in a top 20 computer science program at Purdue University.

The survey data revealed:

Mimir+StudentSurveyData

A case study was molded from this (and additional) data to build a foundation for why-based marketing and sales efforts. The student-centric approach highlights instructor challenges by treating the cause (student dissatisfaction) rather than the symptoms (poor coursework scores). This ultimately improves the instructor experience too. Through my outreach, I found a majority of instructors truly want students to succeed and the team at Mimir is striving to make that happen.