Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Intro to Programming

I wrote a post last year explaining all the different ways that discussion happens in online classes (http://blogs.simmons.edu/slis/student-experience/2019/04/participation.html).  This semester, I have another new format for my Introduction to Programming course (LIS 485), and it relies on mainly on classmate feedback.  Each week, we have to complete a lab and an assignment.  The lab is where we practice our coding skills, and the assignment is where we answer questions and/or perform a coding task related to what we've learned in the lab.  It's very similar to the format of Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488), except that now we are required to post our work to the forums for our classmates to review.  I was pretty anxious about this at first.  In a normal class, if I mess up, I'm the only one who knows besides the professor.  With this format, there's no secrecy.  If I struggle or have the wrong answers, everyone will know.  What if my classmates judge me for being wrong? 

Thankfully, this has not been the case.  It turns out that looking at and commenting on everyone's work is not as scary as I thought it would be.  In fact, it's actually very helpful!  There is a lot of variety in programming and many ways that you can get to the same answer.  It's been interesting to see everyone's work, and I've gotten lots of ideas on how to approach different coding situations.  Everyone has been very friendly and helpful with their comments.  It's a supportive atmosphere, not a judgmental one.  For the labs, we can comment on anyone's work, but for the assignments, we have "code partners," and we discuss just between the two of us.  Overall, I think this format is great for improving my coding skills and for getting to know my classmates better. 

This week's assignment is particularly interesting and will probably generate a lot of discussion.  We had to write pseudocode for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Pseudocode is basically an outline for your code, where you to write out everything in detail and get the steps organized before you actually start to code.  I made several drafts of my pseudocode.  I started by explaining the sandwich making process in full detail, from taking out the jars of peanut butter and jelly to unscrewing the lids to cutting the sandwich.  I think I had too much detail there, and I whittled it down a bit.  I still wasn't happy with that version and I completely re-wrote it to be very basic.  I think I might have been a little too basic, but it was hard to make the choice between too much info and too little info.  I'm sure the responses this week are going to be all over the map in terms of detail, and I'm looking forward to reading them.