Two insights on teaching computer programming
matthias at ccs.neu.edu
Mon Jan 2 17:11:43 EST 2006
On Jan 2, 2006, at 4:54 AM, Peter Van Roy wrote:
> Henderson Peter wrote:
> BTW, I have the feeling that we don't disagree so much on the core.
I have pointed out several commonalities before :-) .
> After teaching programming in the second and third years for some time
> now, I am now starting to get interested in the first year course. I
> very early on that the first year is quite different from the second
Brutally different. Until you stand in the classroom you won't know
> Andres Becerra and I are looking carefully at the first year. Your
> work on
> the first year is one of the most thorough that has been done. But
> some of
> our basic principles are different,
I'll wait for this but I am extremely interested. Keep in mind that we
spent 8 years exploring and rewriting: from 1992 to 2000. In addition to
spending many days hanging out in Rice's lab, I also visited local high
school teachers, watching them teach C++ and Scheme (and even Java).
The supportive software -- it is NOT enough to choose a subset; it is
critical to support it! -- was revised MANY times.
The book was rewritten twice. I threw away three times as many pages
as I published.
We tested the package at five colleges and close to 100 high schools.
In short, we didn't sit down, fix some principles, and finish it up
in a couple of years. How to Design Programs (HtDP) is eight years of
experience and experimentation. And HtDCH isn't far behind in that.
> so maybe we will come up with a somewhat different first year course.
Just keep in mind that we went thru a lot and discarded a lot --
for good reason. Otherwise I will wait and see.
Well, I will express my personal opinion:
1. The principles in HtDP scale extremely well, both to pure OOP,
to large-scale programming (my junior course), and to Principles of
PL programming (my first-year PhD course).
2. I would love to see a paradigm course, perhaps such as yours,
in addition to a non-monoculturalist Java/Eclipse first year. Shriam
is working on something similar, PLAI, and his course book is on line:
> A Happy New Year to you and all the people on the math-thinking list.
Happy New Year to you and everyone else who had the patience to
dig thru a scientific public dialog.
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