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"Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 19:52:29 -0500
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Hi, Mike,

Glad you joined in.  You made a lot of good points here.

Yes, our equations are a lot different.  You are right
about the nature of the universities ... in Georgia,
we have a really different way of handling higher
education that is double-edged in my opinion.  With
the Lottery providing huge amounts of money for
education, high school students with an average above
a certain level get to go to college for (I think)
free so long as they retain their average.  I could
be wrong, but it's something like that ... either free
or almost free.

We also have classes teaching C++ to Freshmen.  This
is my first semester here, and when I saw some of
my students doing so poorly, I asked the dept heads
if there was a problem.  Their response was that this
kind of thing is typical and not to worry.  So I kept
following the lesson plan with my own little Ada twists.

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.

Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Michael Feldman
> Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 6:00 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: What the competition looks like
> [said Rick]
> > I really hate seeing a student drop out.  I think making
> > it fun helps reduce that problem.  But it still happens.
> > My Freshman dropout rate is a little more than 50% this
> > semester by my current estimates.
> And you're teaching VB to them, so clearly VB is not keeping
> them in, is it? You guys really need to try to find out why so many
> are bailing out. For whatever consolation it is to you,
> I've heard of lots of 50% dropout rates in CS.
> At GW our dropout rate from freshman to sophomore year is typically
> 25-30%; this is to be expected because a lot of students come into
> CS with no clue about what it is, then bail out when they find
> out there's (gasp!) math and science in it, not to mention
> all the SE concepts they must get at least in the second course.
> If we had anything like a 50% bailout rate, we'd be REALLY
> upset and trying VERY hard to figure out why. Of course, we are
> also a middle-tier private university, dependent on (very)
> high tuition. Maybe KSU, as a state school, is less concerned,
> because their entrance standards may (by legislative fiat)
> be lower. Dunno.
> And of course we are teaching Ada 95 in our first 2 courses,
> so clearly an Ada-based curriculum does not, in itself, lead
> to lower retention. And a VB-based one does not, in itself,
> lead to higher retention.
> There are lots of factors here, Rick (and everyone) - after 25
> years as a full-time CS prof (and the one responsible for the first
> 2 courses, and an undergrad advisor, and the curriculum chair...)
> I'm convinced that there are no magic bullets. I don;t think a
> really good discussion of currculum development needs to degenerate
> into a language war - there is MUCH more to it than that, as our
> respective situations make obvious.
> I hope John McCormick is reading this - I'm cc-ing him just to
> be sure. He may have some things to say on this subject.
> [snip]
> >
> > Rick
> Mike