Archive for November 2nd, 2012

postheadericon Is There a Better Way to Run a Programming Class?

Last year in ECE2574, a C++ Data Structures class, there were 64 students crammed into a small classroom on the first day. Just two weeks later, there were no more than 15 students coming to class on a regular basis. The worst I saw was just 8 students. I thought the class was just too hard for some people so they dropped it. However, on the day of the final exam, over 50 people showed up!! I finally came to the conclusion that students, including me, don’t seem to get much out of classroom teaching of programming so they just don’t show up.

So is there a better way to keep students in programming classes engaged so that they not only come to class but participate and ask/answer questions?

Based on the programming classes I’ve been in, nothing has worked. Most professors accept that too but keep on going because they’re at least reaching a few students who are getting the most out of their [parent’s] $24,000/year payments.

My suggestion for programming classes: have a LIVE feed or terminal window that everyone can log onto/access and post questions or answers to coding solutions. To avoid fear of asking stupid answers, just first and last initials could be used to hide the identity of a shy student. Also, include color codes(red for answers, blue for questions, etc) just for fun and make it a little more user-friendly and fun to use!

Having a live feed that everyone can see and post too will keep the classes fast paced and won’t drag on and make kids feel like it’s useless to come to class. Instead, this new live feed will provide speedy interaction between students, other students, and their professor. As a result, classes can cover more topics and make sure no one is completely left behind.

So… anyone want to create that? I’m a bit busy to even google to see if an app exists already.

postheadericon Quiet Classrooms a Problem Campus-wide?

In my earlier post about shyness and its epidemic among engineers, I generalized the college of engineering only. I thought that, for the most part, all other majors were much more talkative, interactive, and generally more sociable both in and out of the classrooms. However, my ECE 2524 professor pointed out (after no one was responding in class) that the majority of classrooms at Virginia Tech were just as quiet(perhaps not as awkward though) as engineering classrooms.

In my experience, I’ve had only a handful of non-engineering related classes like Freshman English and Intro. to Psychology. During both those classes, my fellow classmates and I were much more talkative and engaged with the professors. I felt it was like that because it wasn’t a small room filled with 60 introverted engineers; it was a room with introverted and extroverted comm, business, and life sciences majors among others. Thus, the outgoing people helped make the introverts, like me, feel way more comfortable!

However, I’m sure there are exceptions; I just haven’t had enough time sitting in non-engineering classes to make a call to see if the awkward silences occur in majority their classes too, unlike engineering classes where I know no one wants to talk and ask/answer questions.

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