Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Disappointing or Worrying?

Hi all,
As usual the results of the last poll,



26 % chose Yes
73 % chose No.

Now the cause of the choice for the title of this posting!

As you are aware, I 'teach' Programming Methodology, and since i had already informed the students about the fact that they might be having a test in the lab in week one, i decided to give them the test yesterday...

I took a question from a past exam paper off a colleague and gave that question as a test. It must be understood that the question was one of three give in a three hour test. The students were give two hours to complete that very first question, and out of 15 (the remaining 15 bunked), only four managed to finish it on time. The others ...well no comments.... I was even shocked by the attitude of some students who were chilling out in the lab probably present only because of the shade and air-conditioning in the lab...because obviously, they were not working - or even pretending to work.

The situation is alarming. I know that some students are working hard, but are they working hard enough. I believe that if a Computer Science students is having problems with Programming Methodology- he will have major difficulties in Year 2 whereby 75 % of the modules do involve programming in one way or the other.

Being quite cross at the outcome of my test, i was talking about it to the Florist of the faculty... and he wisely pointed out that the students nowadays are not what they used to be. Now most of them are over-pampered brats, who have been spoon-fed throughout their life, they come to uni because its is fashionable to do so, or their parents forced them to do so!

We have reached a point where students come to lecture halls without having read or prepared to topic, some do not even bother to print the slides... Computer Science is one of the most challenging fields where only there categories of people belong (the 3 categories not being mutually exclusive)
a. hard-workers
b. people who are passionate
c. people who are good at it (smart-workers)

Its not a field in which you study just to work at one of the Cyber-Towers.

Furthermore, yesterday was marked by Avinash's posting on his blog mentioning that he is founding a new religion and quitting his job at UoM... Well...what a big loss...best of luck founder of Avism!!!

Well since part of your blog was about religion. i might add my bit to it.
People try to mix culture and religion and this is wrong...the culture of a person include (but is not restricted to) the traditions a person follows as a result of his origin.

For instance, a mauritian, irrespective of his religion, celebrates Christmas.
An indian (from India, obviously), irrespective of his religion celebrates Divali.

For instance the culture of all Hindus in Mauritius includes the celebration of Divali. However can the same be said of all Hindus in India?

Now as i said sometimes the culture of a person can also include things done traditionally in the country of origin of that person (or his ancestor). e.g. many Hindus in Mauritius celebrate Sankranti (Le festival de la moisson), coz farmers in India pay homage to the Sun God for a good harvest... however when they indentured labourers came to Mauritius, though the situation was different, coz the harvest was not their own, they still celebrated..so culture has got an element of 'habit' i.e if your ancestor were doing it somewhere, you can perpetrate that where you are and this gets termed as your culture.

Culture can be expressed in language, dressing habit,moral and social values, music, art, cooking, means of interaction...

Now you would have realised the 'culture' is a mixture of several things. Religion however can be thought of as being more complex! However to me religion can be summed up using set-notation.

Since all religions preach one thing (Love & tolerance), they have one thing is common.

They only differ in the names they give to God/Prophets.

In my humble opinion, different religions are different sets (mathematically speaking) holding one or more names for God (as their elements).
Now some of these sets are conjoint and some others are disjoint.

Some of the fights and wars in the world are because of these different names, but didn't Shakespeare say (in Romeo and Juliet) :

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."

I wonder if i could change it to:

"What's in a name? That which we call God, by any other name would preach love and tolerance.".

I know its does not sound as good as Shakespeare..but thats a start!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

“The situation is alarming. I know that some students are working hard, but are they working hard enough. I believe that if a Computer Science students is having problems with Programming Methodology- he will have major difficulties in Year 2 whereby 75 % of the modules do involve programming in one way or the other.”

Well first to begin with, you must bear in mind that NOT all the students doing CSE are here to become the future programmers of the island. Some are just here to become teachers/graphic designers/ and a few other jobs which are not directly linked to programming. I, for example, am doing Programming methodology though I don’t plan to do programming in my later studies(yeah am stuck with it so better try to do it as best as possible rather than complaining too much: ”why the hell am I stuck with programming? lol”


darklide

Anonymous said...

That's weird. I personally like programming. I gives me the chance to kill off some brain cells that would otherwise have been wasted in random activities.

But I think the way we are taught programming is not good enough. It's too much theory. I've always been told that the best way to learn programming is to have a book about the language open by your side, and you have a compiler in front of you. i.e. practice! Instead, we are over-flowed with theory upon theory.

But sir, your class is kind of more interesting! That idea of using a graphic tablet is a nice one! :P

At uni, we are given "boring" questions as Labsheets. It'll be more fun to be given some questions that are more interesting to do. Like "design a mini game" or "do a program that will monitor network bandwidth usage". Ok, these might be a bit complex, but we'd be given the opportunity to use the language fully, and learn a bit about the other libraries. Put that over a 6-months period, and you have a nice assignment, instead of weekly labsheets. Like Windows and Graphics libraries of C++? Google's Summer of Code anyone?? :D

Anon! :P

G@V!N said...

'Well first to begin with, you must bear in mind that NOT all the students doing CSE are here to become the future programmers of the island.
'

Well i believe that one cannot call himself a decent Computer Scientist if he cannot program. Furthermore, I believe that if you plan to be a teacher, there are other programmes which you could have opted for.

CSE students are meant to have some basic knowledge and programming skills.

Well you mentioned about becoming a teacher, i do agree that its a very noble choice...I hope you do not plan to become a Computer Science teacher, how would you be able to aspire students if you do not like the core part of computer Science i.e. programming.

Furthermore, if you say that you'don’t plan to do programming in my later studies', i tend to believe that whatever you plan for you later studies is not tightly linked to Computer Science...so yu are wasting years of your life studying something which will not be helping you further down the line...

I've always been told that the best way to learn programming is to have a book about the language open by your side, and you have a compiler in front of you. i.e. practice!

Practice makes perfect! Overflowed with theory...come on!!! the theory teaches you concepts...you shall be using these concepts later to help you out. I perfectly understand the fact that you would have liked more challenging tasks...

The part whereby you study with a textbook and a compiler, thats is what is expected of you as part of self-learning. As i always mention, for every one hour's lecture, you are expected to put in 2-3 hours of self-study..How many of you do i? I would say less than 20%.

I am happy that you appreciate the use of the graphic tablet..i think i am the only one using it to aid my lecturing.

In my humble opinion, some of you expect the lecturer to give you every single lines of codes in every possible exam question. Then you would learn the whole programs by heart and regurgitate for the exams... well this is sooo wrong.

Discovery is more interesting than learning.


It'll be more fun to be given some questions that are more interesting to do. Like "design a mini game" or "do a program that will monitor network bandwidth usage". Ok, these might be a bit complex, but we'd be given the opportunity to use the language fully


I do understand that you would prefer this.... however you have to bear in mind the fact that many of my own students are not able to do a simple question on classes and arrays in two hours.

What would be the situation of these students if they were give 'challenging assignments'?

Such questions about mini games and... will come in YR 2.

Alors, chers passionnés de la programmation, prenez votre mal en patience!

I also believe that many students lack the skills to plan their own work. Given an assignment to be completed in 6 months, many will wait till the last month to start on it, and then complain two weeks before submission that it is too hard and even dare to ask for extension of deadline :-) I was a student too!

'but we'd be given the opportunity to use the language fully'

Please do not expect them to use the language...many do not even know it.

HOWEVER, I have to admit that though some students are finding the module hard...they are not givin up. Many of them are putting in extra effort to get the work done. I have only one thing to say... even if it does not seem to work at first and that you effort seem useless...please do not despair... Keep it up. Though at times i see that the programs are not working, i really values the effort you put in. The day you master the subject (and it will happen, if you persevere) will be the day, you will be proud of yourself. Hard work always pays off

Once a teacher told me:
Success in studies is 20% intelligence, 5% luck and 75 % hard work.

Anonymous said...

Well i believe that one cannot call himself a decent Computer Scientist if he cannot program. Furthermore, I believe that if you plan to be a teacher, there are other programmes which you could have opted for.

CSE students are meant to have some basic knowledge and programming skills.

Well you mentioned about becoming a teacher, i do agree that its a very noble choice...I hope you do not plan to become a Computer Science teacher, how would you be able to aspire students if you do not like the core part of computer Science i.e. programming.

Furthermore, if you say that you'don’t plan to do programming in my later studies', i tend to believe that whatever you plan for you later studies is not tightly linked to Computer Science...so yu are wasting years of your life studying something which will not be helping you further down the line...


1. I’m not a computer scientist but I have to do programming methodology
2. I don’t plan becoming a teacher
3. What I plan to study is linked with CS but not really tightly. I don’t think I will need much programming later

I don’t really mind doing programming coz I understand the concepts perfectly, my only problem rite now is with the syntax but I will manage to grasp that before exams. The problem here concerns those who have to programming but really don’t like it/cant do it and I can tell that 90% of the students in my class fall in that category.


darklide

G@V!N said...

Hi Darklide, thank for the clarifications!

Then i believe that for your programming will be 'un mal necessaire'. I simply hope that you ar enot a CSE sutdent coz if you are, then next year you will have to do modules like
Object Oriented Techniques, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Programming Languages, System Software, Database Management Systems with PG-SQL, Programming Languages, and Web-Technologies (HTML, Javascript, ASP, PHP and AJAX)...

This also applies to the 90 % as well, though i doubt the source of this statistic!

As i said before, there are other programmes at UoM, choose one you like, and make sure you like the one you choose!

vicks said...

interesting topic, talked a lot about it on "noulakaz"

the problem is we don't know what we are getting into before choosing the course.

there are lots of students that are not supposed to be in CSE.. maybe there should be some kind of entry exam, genre aptitude test..

Some problems that might be for programming

1.the tools used for teaching are not appropriate.

2.there is not enough emphasis on programming.. a 3 hour lecture and a few labs is not enough i think for a year 1

i've already been through this module and at first it was quite a lot to take specially if you don't really work on your labs and have a tendency to actually copy from your friends.

but believe me you'll understand lots of things when you go in upper levels. specially in level 2 when you'll be doing java and algorithms..

To Gavin

students have a tendency to learn by heart coz they know the structure and questions repeat.. some original questions might will eliminate this problem i think..

Also there can be some kind of structure at uom for upper level students to help new commers.. i believe students will be more at ease with boys and gurls of their same age to ask questions etc.

G@V!N said...

Hi Vicks, thx for ur comment.

Well, when we were students at UoM, we asked senior students to helps us out and some did.

I do understand that 2 hours are not enough to teach concepts in a lecture hall, and two hours are not enough to apply these concepts.

But at university, students are epected to work a lot by themselves.

Its true that some concepts do get clearer in Yr 2 when you use them in some modules.

However, i personally ask the students to come and see me personally if they want topics or concepts to be re-explained, but not many do!

I am vegetarian...and i promise i won't even bite!

lol!

vicks said...

yeaps many won't ask cause they still see you as the guy who will give marks..


it might seem strange but when i was in year 1, i never seem to have free time to actually do some good group work.. its like we are new to the whole structure, and there are too many modules lol. we just got out from HSC where we basicaly dealt with only 3 main subjects and now At uom we are faced to 6!!!

personally i don't see the use of computer hardware. its just an electronics module that i think they didn't want to even adapt it to the CS structure. The main things i think is interesting in hardware are the registers, bitwise operations etc .. but the whole thing can be summerise in 1 semester module.

fundementals lacks the introduction to linux, lab wise, and mgt1111 well could have been an elective, and maybe the ability to choose between cyberlaw.

compared to IS students we didn't get to do anything related to cyberlaw or multimedia.

anyway, i think the transition is a bit hard to move from HSC to uni and given enough time to breathe students should be able to cope.

bon pas capve tou moricien la tet brulE quan mem lol..

maybe the tool being used is not suitable.
many people contest the use of C++ as an introduction language.. what do you think?

G@V!N said...

Intro to Linux... i think it is more interesting to learn its features by yourself...as i have said loads of time: Discovery is better than directed learning.

As regards your electives, since IS and CSE are intended to work in different 'areas' of an organisation, we cannot offer the same electives as well as the ame modules- which is quite understandable.

As regards C++ as the programming Language. i personally like C++, and i have very good friends of mine who dnt like it that much.
Avinash for instance is great fan of Ruby and Scheme. Pascal loves Python and...... We each have our preferences,

But one thing is clear- assume that programmers are multi-lingual authors, they can express a single idea in different languages...so the expression is secondary. The idea is essential

The issue is not with the expression (the Language) - it lies in the inability of student to conceptualise the solution even before the start coding.

And i honestly belive that many of the students cannot imagine the solution. Even if you are given the simplest language, if you cant think about the structure of the program, you won't be able to implement it in codes.

So, they have to learnt to think properly- i.e in a structured and logical way!

What do you think Vicks?

vicks said...

"Discovery is better than directed learning" (i think this varies with experience, as you grow older this phrase makes more n more sense)


discovery with a little direction i think is better.

don't forget that students are spoon fed during most of the years in college.
A little bit of guidance and motivation is i think what needed..

but how to motivate them??? new stuffs? things they can relate to..

like you for instance i believe you worked at accenture.. relating some of your experience there and interesting things that you've done can make then wanna invest more in their studies..

i remember A.Meetoo relating his experiences at DCDM, was really nice and he's an inspiring figure..

HE also made us feel like crap(that we knew nothing).. in a way he's right and help many of us to focus and improve

The whole point is students look up to their lecturers. I believe interaction is very important, try to find out where the problem is with programming.. tell them how you dealt with it when you were student. give them tips and techniques to deal with the material.. (classes in creole boost interaction lol)

what i really wanted to say is that students are not stupid nor some lazy brats, the whole point they came to uom is that they wanna learn new stuffs, its just that they don't know how to proceed in doing so.. guidance, motivation and a little bit of inspiration is whats needed :P

G@V!N said...

Sorry Vicks for the late reply!

I have funny and dramatic experiences...

Interaction is what i believe makes te whole point...I have had some wonderful experiences at UoM simply because some lectures were interactive!

I have started reading a book called Programming Challenges, and the questions are very interesting... they are problem-oriented questions which help people to 'discover' how to apply logic to solve real-life problems.

I do understand that at uni, the whole environment changes....I once had a funny little sentence which was:

At some stages in your life you imitate to learn, at others you learn to imitate, then you learn and finally you study.

Well uni should not be about learning, it should be studying and/or discovery.

I am not really for classes in Creol at University Level. However, i believe this will work well in education at lower levels.


'the whole point they came to uom is that they wanna learn new stuffs'

Well i believe it would be better if The came to UoM to learn about the things they really like. In year 2 some students realise that they might have wrongly chosen their course of study...could be because of wrong choice, wrong info or wrong influence.

Well if I am good enough to inspire...i think my students are better able to decide! But I am trying hard!!! lol!

All comments for improvements are welcome...

As regards experience...i will explain how i truncated a test table on UAT in Accenture!!! and it took them hours to restore it...
some committed worse blunders!!!

Hihihi...
A friend once deleted a table running on Prod!

We all learn by making mistakes...how well you learn depends on the seriousness of the mistake....lol.

If you commit the same mistake..then you are a fool.

A wise comment i once heard:
Its important to learn from your mistake...it's more important to learn from the mistake of others