TITLE: The Verdict Is In
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: January 12, 2007 6:14 PM
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,
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.