October 11, 2003

Bulk view

Getting more oomph from programming exercises — education, research


Alan L. Tharp


Much attention has been given to the content of
introdutory computer science courses, but based on a perusal of
introductory textbooks, it appears that somewhat less attention has
been given to the programming exercises to be used in these courses.
Programming exercises can be modified to provide a better educational
experience for the student. An examlpe of how atypical programming
exercises were incorporated into an introductory programming language
course is described.

Situating Teachers’ Instructional Practices in the Institutional Setting of the School and District — education, research

From the text:

The teachers’ instructional practices were more heterogeneous
after they had collaborated with us for 2 years. Differences were
apparent in the extent to which the teachers expected students’
to justify their reasoning, posed questions to understand stu-
dents’ solution processes, expected students to listen to and make
judgments about others’ explanations, and encouraged multiple
solutions. All but one of the teachers had previously used the tra-
ditional textbook series as the primary basis for their instruction.
Three now relied primarily on the reform textbook series and the
other three used the two series in combination. It was also no-
ticeable that only two of the teachers continued to use textbooks
as blueprints for instruction. The remaining four teachers mod-
ified and adapted textbook lessons based on their understanding
of their students’ reasoning. Despite these differences, we were
able to identify some general patterns in their teaching. For ex-
ample, there was an overall shift away from demonstrating pro-
cedures and toward leading whole class discussions that focused
on students’ solutions.

Teaching quotes


– A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. (Thomas Carruthers)
– The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon. (Maria Montessori)
– We must view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to be lit. (Robert H. Shaffer)

A web of resources for introductory computer science — research, education



As the field of Computer Science has grown, the syllabus of the
introductory Computer Science course has changed significantly. No
longer is it a simple introduction to programming or a tutorial on
computer concepts and applications. Rather, it has become a survey of
the field of Computer Science, touching on a wide variety of topics
from digital circuits to human- computer interaction.

Without sufficient resources, students can be overwhelmed by this
broad range of topics. With sufficient resources and an interface to
tame the potential flood of resources, they can better comprehend the
class topics. Resources that benefit students include

– the course guide;
– an extensive, well-linked, syllabus;
– blackboards, transcriptions, and instructor’s notes from each class;
– more in-depth notes on topics prepared by students; and
– questions and tips from other students (with answers and further comments from the instructor).

This paper describes the design and creation of such a web of
resources “on the fly,” while the course is being taught. The design
and creation of this web touches on many issues, including mechanisms
for convincing students to use the web; the balance between online
hypertext and printed documents; problems and benefits of live update
(the collection of resources changes frequently, as each class period
generates new resources); the roles of audio and video; and, most
importantly, student reactions.