LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for TEAM-ADA Archives


TEAM-ADA Archives

TEAM-ADA Archives


TEAM-ADA@LISTSERV.ACM.ORG


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

TEAM-ADA Home

TEAM-ADA Home

TEAM-ADA  October 2000

TEAM-ADA October 2000

Subject:

Re: C++ as a first language

From:

Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 7 Oct 2000 11:45:27 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (104 lines)

[said Tony]

> On the subject of the AP test.
>
> Someone (sorry I deleted the orginal message) pointed out that the language
> used is selected based on what is thought to be the prevelant language of
> the next 5 years.

The (assumed) prevalent first language in universities.
>
> What decides that?

We were discussing the Advanced Placement (AP) tests. For our non-US
subscribers, let me fill in some facts (I'm familiar with this from 25
years of university teaching, and some prior employment).

What's AP? Some US high schools teach upper-level courses that
are approximately at university level; the AP tests measure students'
achievement in such courses. The tests are graded with 5 the highest
score; a student achieving a 4 or 5 can usually bypass the corresponding
university course and sometimes actually get degree credit for it.
(So basically the system provides college credit for really good high
school courses.)

The College Board (CB) is a "non-profit" organization created in the 1940s
by an  association of US univs.  to sponsor admission tests of various
kinds. The CB sets basic policy for these tests of all kinds.

A "non-profit" company, Educational Testing Service (ETS), actually
creates and administers the tests, under a contract with the College
Board. I worked for ETS, in their IS organization, for 4 years in
the 1970s, before I moved to GWU to teach. Their IS technologies
have changed, obviously, but the basic CB/ETS testing model has not.

The AP process has worked (IMHO) reasonably well for fairly standard
subjects like calculus, chemistry, physics, literature, etc. IMHO
it does not work very well for emerging fields with very diverse
first-year college courses, CS being the most obvious such field.

OK, but some US high schools do teach some CS; the quality of the
instruction and instructors is highly variable. Some years ago the
CB developed a CS test, which for years used Pascal as a "publication
language" - a lingua franca to express algorithms. Obviously this
tended to drive the curricula of the better high school courses.

In the mid-90s, as Pascal was passing out of favor in the universities,
CB/ETS came under pressure to dump this "old-fashioned" approach in
favor of something more "current".

The College Board created a committee of some univ. faculty and
some high school teachers. They did a "market survey" of university
CS departments that accept AP credit, asking them which language
they expected to be using in their intro courses over the next
number of years.

Remember, the AP test is a quasi-commercial thing (like the CB/ETS
Scholastic Assessment Tests (SATs) most US colleges use as entrance
exams), so the market study focuses on those univs.  with the largest
number of AP-"certified" entering students.

The answer? C++, obviously. Of course, by the time a large number of
high school seniors were taking the C++-based tests, many universities
had already dumped C++ for Java in their intro courses. So now CB/ETS
and their various advisors are working on switching the test to Java.

Now there's a very long lead time in developing an AP test, and high-
school courses that prepare students for it, and teacher-training material
to prepare the high-school teachers to teach those courses, and so on. So
in an emerging, fast-changing field like ours, a test that focues on
technology (coding in a language) rather than fundamentals is guaranteed
always to be behind the curve. Furthermore, many high school CS teachers
are resentful at being jerked around - just as they get decently good
at teaching Pascal, wham! C++. Just as they finally get their arms
around C++, wham! Java, and so on.

Can this ridiculous (IMHO) state of affairs be changed? I doubt it.
Everyone says they're "doing what the customers want", and in the
US higher education world, nobody's in charge. Certainly not the US
government, which most Americans prefer to see standing on the sidelines
of higher education.
>
> Every conference I go to, hiring mangers want to use C++ (sometimes Java)
> because that is the only 'people' they can hire.

And of course they focus on the kind of screwdriver you can use, rather
than on whether you can design a building that will withstand earthquakes.
>
> Why is there an abundance of one type of engineer?  Is it due to the vast
> network of corporate training, providing a comprehensive understanding of
> new language developments (Ouch, I bit my tongue coming out of my cheek!).
>
> Chicken.. Egg.. Hmmmm?

Well, yes, and it starts in the high schools.
>
> I think it is a vast Anti-Software Quality conspiracy made to keep the
> salaries inflated (Ouch, was that the tongue again or the inplant inserted
> during undergrad?).

Well, I think it's just stupidity and chaos rather than malicious
conspiracy, but the result is the same.:-)

Mike Feldman

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
June 2007
May 2007
March 2007
February 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.ACM.ORG

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager