No Fancy Name
Monday, February 14, 2005
a post about my course
When I originally planned to post an update on my course, it was after a student graduated from the course and said nice things like "Thank you for your patience and encouragement. This has definitely been the toughest programming course I’ve taken to date." I am proud of both of those statements. After that, it's been a real downer. Although five students have completed the course, it seems that the current batch of students are having difficulties. Not all of them, but I think we all know how it is—we only hear the negative things. The "I don't understand this, tell me specifically what to do," emails (which really means "write my exercise code for me"), followed by me repeating elements of the lecture, pointing to FAQs I wrote for the course, pointing to the grading criteria (because it has specific points about what is expected within a particular excercise), answering specific questions with specific answers and then having students say that I am "unclear", etc. I dutifully answer these mails. I give Student Services a heads-up that they may get an email from a frustrated student. I beg the Student Services people to please, please, please tell me what I'm doing wrong because I'm doing everything I know how to do (note that I am leaving open the fact that I don't know everything) and I am writing thousands of words in emails and grading responses and spending hours with students just on one lesson...and they tell me that I'm doing everything that I can, and that I being very patient.

I don't expect people to understand everything in the course. It's designed so that they need not know anything about programming when beginning it (but they have to have basic HTML knowledge and a general concept of how the web works), they just have to pay attention and do things consistently. It's a course that builds on each lesson, and the fundamentals are beat into you (nicely, of course). There are just people who don't get fundamentals, and don't do things consistently, and don't see, for example, that "A" and "B" are two different letters. I respect them for trying, and for putting in all the time that they do spend while trying, and for asking questions (because asking questions is sometimes difficult) when they are stuck, but I just wish that there was some magic switch I could turn on so that people could see that "A" and "B" are different.

So basically, right now I feel like shit because all the people that have problems are all "you suck and you're the worst teacher ever and you're so unclear" and all the people who don't have problems are all "you're the best, you're so thorough and I appreciate all your help and your comments were so great and now I have learned so much I never thought I could do"...and the former group outnumbers the latter.


job / books / new blog

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