Thursday, August 07, 2008

“The best methodology for C++ teaching from ground up – an experience in the XYZ University”

By me {at} gmail.com, B.MIS, MSc(CS)

In this paper we share our experience in delivering the structured programming introduction to the undergraduates whom never learn programming, or had background in C language. We observed this behavior and measure the students by looking at their quantitative output. This hopefully will be towards the effectiveness in teaching and the best measurement to evaluate education methodology. For the milestone we hope that this novel approach will yield to yet another Nobel Laureate winner from Malaysia.

Background

In XYZ we use C++ as the introductory language, and formerly we used C language. One of the reasons is simply because the advanced subjects in the undergrad years mostly are using object oriented language. For example, books in Data Structure and Algorithm nowadays focusing in C++, and the C version on the same title are slowly taken out from the market. Since C++ itself is a superset of C, it seems no big deal on switching the language.

For the method of the course content’s delivery we use several method which inclusive of personal assessments and group-based assessments.

Personal assessment:

  1. Quiz
  2. Midterm exam
  3. Final exam

Group based assessments

  1. Assignments
  2. Group project

Barrier

We found that the barrier of delivering the content’s syllabi being categorized into:

The student’s perspective:

  1. Do not read book
  2. Do not even own book
  3. Absent in class
  4. Do not participate in assignment/group project
  5. Do not do homework/exercise

The instructor’s perspective:

  1. Do not effectively communicate his/her knowledge
  2. Slides/handouts are vague
  3. Not able to cope into different level of student’s background

The laboratory’s perspective:

  1. Faulty and always faulty machines
  2. Some machine cannot probe the external drive i.e USB. Hence the students felt bit distracted

Course material

Currently we are using Introduction to Computer Science by C++ written by Forouzan. The book however no longer being published since the author is changing the publisher. Hence we opt to switch to the other textbook which was written by Bronson.

Operating System environment

We are using Microsoft Windows XP as the workstation’s operating system and people are happy that way until they got infected with viruses.

Compiler and IDE

We now heavily use the free, and sometimes always hassle Dev C++ IDE hosted by Bloodshed. Personally we think of to advocate the usage of the command line interface/CLI for the sake of “leetness” or simply l337. But since nobody give a damn about that hence we just stick with windowish and be another fan of Bill Gates.

Now that the students getting confused Dev C++ as a compiler , we are having royal pain in the butt to telling that Dev C++ is an IDE, and we are using GCC/G++ as the compiler. Since the definition of GCC was once GNU C Compiler and now GNU Compiler Collection, we do not dare to tell that since it just getting things worst.

==to be continued, when I've mood to write more!

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