TITLE: The Verdict Is In AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 12, 2007 6:14 PM DESC: ----- BODY: You may recall a risk I took a few weeks back -- I returned an exam to my CS 1 student on which the grades were disappointing to students, and me, and then later in the period asked them to assess the course and my teaching. No one can say that I tried to stack the deck, either by action or inaction! I received my feedback today, and I all I can say is that the trust I placed in my students' judgment was well-deserved. The assessments were mostly positive -- actually, as good as I've ever had. Given the situation, I doubt that they were artificially high, and I can only hope that they reflect what my students thought. If they do, then the course was a success, both the media computation approach and my implementation of it. That is good news for the students, and for our department, which could use a solid cadre of new majors and minors moving through our program. One question remains: Are these students prepared well enough for their subsequent courses? That is the ultimate criterion for success, and we won't know that until they have taken a few more courses. I'll be keeping my eyes open to their performance in coming terms. Another question remains: Will the media computation approach succeed in other instructors' hands, or even in my hands after the initial rush of excitement I had teaching it the first time. The approach is in use at several other schools, so there is some evidence independent of our institution. We'll see how things go in coming semesters, with other instructors here trying the approach. (It's in place for at least one more semester, this one.) I'm also curious to see how using the Python in the course, or some other lighter-weight interactive language. I'm not sure when, if ever, that might happen here. Curriculum, especially the first-year curriculum, is a hot potato in my department. But I think Ruby or Python might be a great way to appeal to an even broader audience, without losing the hard-core CS-leaning students. -----