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Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 04:35:59 -0500
text/plain (44 lines)
Rick, et al,
> Hi, Mike,

> I don't have the experience of trying to teach Ada
> to Freshmen (just graduate students and industry
> people), so I don't have a basis of comparison.
> But it continues to strike me that the fun aspects
> of VB let me cover the same or more material more
> effectively than I could have with Ada.  And I'm
> introducing objects and classes from the start in
> a visual way.  So, I think it does make a difference.
> Rick

I don't really have a quarrel with your program starting with
VB. As a curriculum planner, I'm all too aware that we debate,
endlessly, the right order in which to introduce languages,
concepts, tools, etc., without being able to prove our assertions.
It's all pretty much "religion", with little or no persuasive
empirical study (of the solid controlled variety) behind it.

So my bottom line is that different faculties - each with its
own politics and culture - will find different paths to the
same goal. I think you and are in violent agreement on the

My quarrel was with your assertion that VB would raise your
retention rate. If you and your colleagues really track the
kids through the program and keep good stats on how they
do (including whether they stay at all) as a function of which
language they started with, then you'll not only have a
stronger case to make, but a damn good SIGCSE paper as well.
But try to hold other things constant so your study will
be reasonably reliable.

This is, in my experience, _extremely_ difficult to do -
getting faculties to do things in acoordinated way is, as we
both know all too well, a herding-cats problem.

Mike Feldman