June 28, 2004

Teaching reflections

June 28, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Dr. Sarmenta finished the lecture on Java Basics and started on Conditionals. I'm worried that the students might find the discussion on preincrements and postincrements a bit too abstract, as they don't have use for that yet. Dr. Sarmenta thinks it's wiser to get the topics out of the way, and since he's senior for that section, well... Anyway, I'm going to postpone that topic until I get to for loops, where it really makes sense.

I'm also worried about the long discussion on conditionals and grouping statements with braces. He spent a lot of time pointing out possible bugs. I guess this is a good thing because otherwise the students might pick up the bad habit of making small, random changes to their programs in order to get things to work, but again, it felt somewhat disconnected.

I started my MIS class with a quick overview of the exercise. I explained a few of the quirks, then moved on to conditionals in the context of the bank account exercise. I explained it in English and then showed them the Java code to do it, which they dutifully copied down. I also showed them how to use the debugger to investigate the behavior of the if/else structure. I felt good about trying to follow the BlueJ way of making exercises.


Armed with more examples, I went over methods of justification again. They understood the contrapositive immediately when I used English examples, and they were surprisingly familiar with the various examples for proof by contradiction. Loop invariants are a little bit clearer now, but they still need a lot of practice identify the statement S and proving it holds true before, during, and after the loop.


Mini-contest. Okay results; a number of people solved at least one problem, and Mark got all 3. I should be moving into searching and sorting soon. I guess I'll have to cover normal sorts so that people using the Online Judge know what to do. I should also cover the shortcuts...