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From:
jim hopper <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
jim hopper <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 22:56:44 -0500
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Rick,

My sister lives in georgia and her kids go to school on the hope
grant you are refering to.  they have to graduate with at least a b
average (might be b+ but its certainly not losers who get to go to
school) and they ahve to maintain a b average in collage to keep
going.  i don't see this as leading to a lower quality of students
than mikes GWU students as georgia high schools were a big step up
from ohio schools when my sister moved there. from what i see of the
kids education there is far from junk and so kids with b averages are
pretty much decent starting material.  true they don't have as many
roadblocks to get to school as kids who have to pay their own tuition
but they still have to come up with living expenses and such.

i do understand you point about wanting to attract kids to stay long
enough to get them interested, but on the one hand you say you are
covering the material, but on the other you say you cant teach them
generics, tasking, other things that would seem just as fundimental
to me as Newtons Laws.  perhaps i am to far from being a freshmen.

jim

At 7:52 PM -0500 12/1/99, Richard L. Conn wrote:
>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.
>
>Rick
>----------------------------------
>Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager
>http://xenadu.home.mindspring.com/
>
>  > -----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

At a recent computer software engineering course in the US, the participants
were given an awkward question to answer.  "If you had just boarded an
airliner and discovered that your team of programmers had been responsible
for the flight control software, how many of you would disembark
immediately?"
                     unknown author

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