Questions tagged [best-practice]

Use this tag for questions about best practices in the classroom. This is an educational term, and does not refer to best practices in coding style. (Instead, see the coding-conventions tag). Some questions with this tag ask for advice on comparing the advisability of two or more possible teaching practices, for example.

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128
votes
13answers
58k views

Should I teach that 1 kB = 1024 bytes or 1000 bytes?

Which conversion should I teach to my undergrad students? That 1 kB is 1024 bytes (binary) as everyone learned back in the nineties or the recent industry-led "friendly" conversion that says that 1 kB ...
119
votes
15answers
36k views

Is it better to lie to students or to be pedantic when teaching Intro CS?

When teaching Intro CS in Java, I sometimes tell students things that are not entirely true, such as that, unlike abstract classes, interfaces cannot contain any code. (For those of you unfamiliar ...
70
votes
8answers
17k views

Is it bad to force my students not to return early?

A fellow teacher of mine is teaching "basic algorithms" course in high school, and we have quite conflicting opinions when it comes to returning from functions. ...
53
votes
9answers
20k views

How do you teach something when you don't know it yourself?

Teachers are sometimes called upon to teach something with which they have no experience. Don't laugh. Doctoral level education is often exactly like this. The student's advisor may have no background ...
44
votes
15answers
16k views

What advantages do students who learn how to touch type have?

Would a student's overall CS education benefit by having such a skill, and if so why not make it a required prerequisite? An editor notes that there are three (at least) different ideas here that ...
40
votes
18answers
11k views

Is it important to teach pointers in a first course using Java?

Many instructors teaching with Java started their education using earlier languages such as C or C++ in which pointers are essential. Pointers, however, are not a Java concept, though those same ...
37
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13answers
5k views

Teaching the humble for loop

So, in C-style languages, the for loop has a funny little syntax: for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++){ // do something } If ...
30
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11answers
8k views

How can we teach good naming practice for students learning Java?

In writing software we name things. In Java we name classes, interfaces, methods, variables, etc. How can we teach both the importance and the skill of choosing good names? What teaching practices ...
26
votes
8answers
7k views

How do you deal with Lone Rangers in group projects?

We all have them - students who want to write all the code themselves, who don't want to be part of a group project. They have poor social skills, or they don't know anyone else in the class, or they ...
25
votes
13answers
2k views

Programming languages specifically designed for beginners

Is there a good beginner's programming language, specifically designed for learners, maybe even kids? Something beginners can sink their teeth into and get results quickly. Results that are more than ...
22
votes
9answers
5k views

The Tao of TeaChing (Making Mistakes in Front of the Class)

How do you handle it when you make a mistake while teaching? I used to get confused, stammer, blush, etc. But now I just pause and notice that something is incorrect, then correct it if I can figure ...
21
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12answers
4k views

Problematic student at a very high level

I teach a high school student who has already developed an understanding of the language used in my curriculum and causes difficulties. The lectures and programming projects in the curriculum bore ...
21
votes
9answers
6k views

How can I convince my fellow CS teachers that reaching every student is a worthwhile goal?

I tried hard, in the latter part of my career, reach every student in every class period that I taught. That this may be an unreachable goal is of little interest to me. I think that I must do this. ...
19
votes
16answers
3k views

Note-taking policy: laptops, or by hand?

My students are all highly inclined to take notes on their computers. There are some obvious advantages: The students absolutely prefer it. They can easily search through their notes later. Since ...
19
votes
10answers
3k views

Cheating on labs

It is spectacularly easy to cheat on CS labs at the high school level and above (roughly ages 14 and up), particularly on short, early assignments. In fact, there is article in today's NY Times about ...
19
votes
10answers
4k views

What ethical practices do students (as potential software engineers) need to be trained in?

The kinds of things that people with technical training can do have societal impacts, both for good and evil. Programmers are building the future. One future nightmare is Skynet. Many problems in ...
18
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5answers
1k views

Do you see the “Bimodal Distribution” too?

When people learn programming in a school setting, tests show a "two hump" tendency. Some students race ahead and grasp it relatively well and others struggle. Apparently this is more pronounced in ...
17
votes
12answers
2k views

Dealing with students who complete labs very quickly

One of my goals is to minimize homework. My high school students are high performing, grade conscious, and constantly stressed out as it is. Many of them fall into the "Ivy League or bust" camp, ...
16
votes
9answers
926 views

Should I have written tests on basic programming skills?

When making more complex programs, it is natural that one needs to run the program to see whether things work and fixing bugs. However, if one makes a lot of mistakes in basic programming, e.g. ...
15
votes
8answers
4k views

How to teach competitive programming?

Competitive programming is mainly about problem-solving skills. Students are given a problem and they have to write a short program to solve it. The students are given a problem for which they have to ...
14
votes
11answers
624 views

How can I show the value of best practices?

As someone who likes to advocate for best practices like correct use of VCS, indentation, sufficient commenting, and testing, I try and integrate them when I teach. But for all of these things, my ...
14
votes
3answers
684 views

Do automatic style hints help students to understand the language they're learning?

Do automatic style hints (like those provided by linters) significantly increase the student's understanding of the language they're learning? I am asking because I assist in a course that uses a ...
13
votes
11answers
4k views

What should be included in a best practices C course?

At our University, we have in the first semester a very difficult C Introductory Course, that consists of presenting a shortened version of the language specification: What are for/while loops, if ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

How to deal with students that don't like CS?

This question is really aimed to teachers, especially in high school courses (but everyone is welcome to share some ideas). If you have a student that really does not like Computer Science, what ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

How to teach students not to use jump statements

We all know goto is the spawn of satan. To learners though, it seems easy and quick. In simple, short program codes having a goto or two won't turn the code into unreadable spaghetti code. So students ...
11
votes
4answers
308 views

Are programming contests beneficial to students?

Background: I’m not entirely a CS educator, but I did run into a debate on whether programming contests are good for students. A lot of people around me have fun in programming contests. Usually, ...
11
votes
4answers
885 views

Who should own the intellectual property on a program developed in classes?

I am aware of some teachers that own or collaborate with IT companies, so sometimes the assignments that they provide, to the students, are supposed to solve a specific problem that the company may ...
10
votes
4answers
291 views

Can sharing learning stats be beneficial to guide beginner students?

Context The main consensus in most compsci programs I have been at is that a sizable amount of students is inherently unable to learn how to code. An old entry on Jeff Atwood's blog summarizing the ...
9
votes
6answers
4k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cumulative vs percentage grading?

There are many ways to grade students. One is to provide a fixed body of student work and then give a percentage grade for assignments, with the overall grade representing the percentage achieved of ...
9
votes
6answers
226 views

Exercise or example to reinforce idea of functions?

I have a group of students with a very shaky understanding of functions and their purpose (encapsulation, reuse, modularization). The assignments I give them require them to write simple functions ...
9
votes
6answers
6k views

What should be included in student portfolios for CS?

Should CS students be keeping a portfolio, and if so, what should it look like? What would you, as a potential employer or college recruiter, like to see in/on a potential employee or student ...
9
votes
5answers
955 views

What advantages/disadvantages have you seen with Pair Programming in the classroom

Many of us use or have used Pair Programming in the classroom. See https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/pairing for a discussion if you like. @BennettBrown has pointed to research showing its ...
9
votes
3answers
178 views

What are good models for a Tutorial System for lagging CS students?

Some students find themselves falling behind in a course but still have the desire to do well. Some colleges provide a definite system of tutors in which such students can get additional help. What ...
9
votes
2answers
690 views

What should a teacher do with information about plagiarism before the final submission

As probably we all experience, plagiarism is very common in CS. I know that there are several types of plagiarism ranging from simply submitting a copy of the colleagues’ code to other highly ...
9
votes
5answers
695 views

Teaching “math function” vs. “CS function”

The word function has different meanings in math and computer science. For example, f(x) = rand(1) is a valid (pseudocoded) CS ...
9
votes
2answers
144 views

Is it a good idea to have students see syntax much earlier than they write it themselves?

I was wondering if there was any research on whether or not students generally perform better later if they're introduced to the syntax they'll be learning far earlier than they actually use it. As ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Best practices for letters of recommendation in CS

As a college professor, I am often asked for letters of recommendation by my CS majors. I have templates, for whether the student is applying for grad school, for an internship, for a scholarship, etc....
8
votes
3answers
154 views

What to gather feedback on?

I'm doing small group tutoring for an undergraduate course next semester and I'd like to gather feedback from students to improve my skills. What are some questions I should ask the students in order ...
8
votes
3answers
498 views

How is your teaching affected by how you learned?

I constantly have to struggle with freeing myself from two hindrances to my teaching: 1) The way I learned about computers, starting almost 40 years ago, and, 2) Amnesia of how I learned some concepts ...
8
votes
4answers
418 views

Making Technical Presentations Safe for Novices

One useful skill in CS is presentation of technical material to peers and/or superiors. Novices, however, often come to computing as introverts for whom public speaking is difficult and even ...
7
votes
3answers
219 views

Demographics in Programming Teams in Early CS Courses

I frequently teach CS1 and CS1-and-a-half in a very diverse, working-class, commuter public sector college. I have my students to work in small groups (2 or 3) on their larger homework programming ...
7
votes
3answers
114 views

Working on practical projects as a team - good or bad?

We are trying to implement a course where students develop web apps using PHP+AgileUI (no HTML, JavaScript or CSS) with a strong emphasis on "object oriented" approach, designing business logic and ...
6
votes
5answers
253 views

Students' confusion over C structure members and structure variables

Before I ask my question, some background may be apposite to provide context. Please indulge me. At the institute I teach, our Intro to Programming. It involves a coverage of C language. We believe C ...
6
votes
4answers
645 views

Should students be taught to be first and foremost: scientists or mathematicians?

It's undeniable that Computer Science is a mixture of disciplines including science (the scientific method, some physics needed to truly understand how computers work at all levels, testing ...
6
votes
3answers
110 views

Is less than comparison more natural than greater than comparison? [closed]

I was teach on mathematics that on real line small numbers are on left and big numbers are on right. Therefore, I think the comparison 0<1 is more natural than 1>0, and in general, x less than y is ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the pedagogical methods for teaching programming?

This is a very objective question. I want to know what are the methods for teaching programing? I'll provide a parallel example to make this clearer in case this causes any confusion. I have ...
6
votes
2answers
203 views

Should I correct mistakes in student presentations?

In my graduate programming languages course, each student is required to learn a different novel programming language during the course of the semester and give a presentation on it to the class at ...
6
votes
2answers
277 views

Good, Motivating Examples for Algorithmic Complexity

I was recently reading a really good article on this topic, and I realize that it could be a very good added value for students to understand better and appreciate (and eventually put in practice) all ...
6
votes
3answers
203 views

Research into the use of symbol names, in programming, and how it affects learning

When programming we need to name things. I have been using turtle graphics in python, and was wondering if the names, chosen, for the commands, were making it more difficult for my pupils. Some of ...
6
votes
3answers
291 views

What are good models for an Honors Program for CS students?

One way to extend the reach of your best students is to have an Honors Program that, perhaps, runs over several years. One model is to have a special program to which students are invited. ...