75 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

There are a number of reasons why students don't learn, but few non medical ones why they can't. Leaving aside the medical reasons, such as hormonal imbalance or other disorders, I think that students ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 36.1k
57 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

Maybe. It's hard to prove a negative. How does knowing that help educators in any way? If that knowledge helps somehow, how does that compare to all the ways that belief can be harmful? Giving up ...
nova's user avatar
  • 1,995
56 votes

Why is computer science hard?

The difficulty of CS (true or imagined) and the drop out rates are not the same thing. Let me start an answer, but it might take several iterations to get all my thoughts together on the two ideas. ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 36.1k
39 votes

Why is computer science hard?

First, I somewhat dispute the premise of the question. I don't necessarily believe that it is harder. I think there may be some other elements at play. Unlike many other college fields, students ...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 33.1k
30 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

As I indicated in the question, it has been my experience that there are certain kids who never seem to come along. My data is drawn from a rather small group (definitely under 1000 kids learning CS ...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 33.1k
29 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

However, every year, I find a small number of students who just don't seem to get it. They get through, but the CS major program becomes harder and harder for them as their four years go by. Must it ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 1,361
23 votes

Why is computer science hard?

Here's an attempt at an answer, with some reflections, and then hopefully at the end a concise reply that we could deliver to an introductory student. For the purposes of this answer, I'll assume that ...
Daniel R. Collins's user avatar
19 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

Consider the posibility that this could be a problem with Java. If your first language is APL, and many fail... is a reflect of the students or APL? Read also: http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/...
mamcx's user avatar
  • 307
17 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

I firmly believe that, barring actual mental handicap, anyone can learn to program. However, this is purely a belief; a matter taken on faith. It is informed in part by some knowledge of psychology ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 270
17 votes

Why is computer science hard?

From my experiences (I studied about 15-20 years ago, and my cohort lost 50% of students within the first four semesters), the main reasons are these: Many students do not really know what CS is ...
AnoE's user avatar
  • 1,379
12 votes

Why is computer science hard?

Maybe some of those who "fail" should have been somewhere else rather than funneled into computer science. There needs to be a differentiation between those who want to study computer ...
JRE's user avatar
  • 241
11 votes

How to deal with very low performing students?

One elegant way to deal with this sort of problem (though it does take a lot of work) is to create a self-explanatory review packet (including a practice quiz!), give it out on day one, and promise ...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 33.1k
11 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

This is all from my own personal experience, no research: I believe all students can learn to program, and can "get it", barring some mental handicap. But they have to have the desire, as many have ...
Java Jive's user avatar
  • 2,359
9 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to study too many things in parallel?

Actually, what you want to do is commendable. And no, at the scale of things you talk about, I don't think you are likely to get yourself confused. In fact, you may have the opportunity to learn ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 36.1k
9 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

Always try to explain it some other way. Try it in another language - there are reasons why BASIC and Visual Basic are used as 'beginner languages', although I would look for 'teaching languages' ...
Nile's user avatar
  • 91
9 votes

How can programming skills be improved?

The only way to learn a lot of things, maybe most things, is practice and feedback. In a standard course (not online), the professor assigns some work to do - homework, projects, .... The professor ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 36.1k
8 votes

Explaining why arrays are important for statisticians

If you are tutoring her, it is wonderful that you are trying to motivate the material in a practical way, but don't beat yourself up too much if you aren't that successful at persuading her. Some ...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 33.1k
8 votes

Why is computer science hard?

Looking back on my experience and education as a software engineer, I think the largest inherent contributors of difficulty in computer science are that it has exceptionally strict and unforgiving ...
Douglas's user avatar
  • 181
7 votes

Student not understanding explanation the 1st, 2nd... and 8th time

Maybe you are stressing things of minor importance. You gave us two examples. ...
Ralf Kleberhoff's user avatar
7 votes

Introduction to product type: motivation and examples

First thing first, a C function may not return an array (without some hoops jumping). It may however return a struct, fair and square: struct is a value, array is not. Structural values arise ...
user58697's user avatar
  • 532
6 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

Nature vs Nurture It seems that nature plays a large role: you can not teach a cat to code (even though they share approximately 90% of our DNA. However most of the variance between humans is probably ...
ctrl-alt-delor's user avatar
6 votes

How to deal with very low performing students?

I noticed that most of the answers focus on the things (topics, lectures, etc.) I have found that it is helpful to focus on the students. I normally ask them for a one-on-one chat and ask them why are ...
Brett Becker's user avatar
6 votes

How to deal with very low performing students?

I face the same issue every year. In France where I teach, University is basically free and, in some bachelor curricula you can repeat the year and re-enrol in courses you have not validated as much ...
Kim Nguyễn's user avatar
6 votes

Is stressing too much on formalism acceptable?

Moving from formal to informal is almost always a mistake. Let me see if I can show you why. When you consider how you think about sets within your own mind, I am reasonably certain that you rarely ...
Ben I.'s user avatar
  • 33.1k
6 votes

Is stressing too much on formalism acceptable?

Formalization is important, I believe, at every step, concurrent with analogies, metaphors, and examples. Give them the formal definition. Use it frequently in teaching and in conversation. Make ...
Java Jive's user avatar
  • 2,359
6 votes

Explaining why arrays are important for statisticians

Have you tried a simple statistics formula such as $$mean = \left(\sum_{i=1}^{n} x_i\right) / n$$ This maps exactly to array notation. Explain that the array x ...
Fritz Sieker's user avatar
  • 1,203
6 votes

Why is computer science hard?

In addition to the many good answers on here, as a past student, TA and instructor in CS — most programming assignments and projects often take large amount of time, even if slimmed down to just ...
Erika's user avatar
  • 161
6 votes
Accepted

Introduction to product type: motivation and examples

The primary purpose of abstractions is to give names to collections of more basic ideas. Instead of writing, "I traveled by putting one foot in front of the other such that at least one foot was ...
Mark H's user avatar
  • 176
5 votes

Is there some meaningful percentage of students who can't learn to program?

(Sorry, too much for a comment) I've had a related experience back in college that I think is relevant. I was a lab assistant, the lab was sometimes used for a computer literacy for seniors class. I ...
Loren Pechtel's user avatar
5 votes

Explaining why arrays are important for statisticians

I had a student some time back who also really struggled with concepts like this, but who was interested in research in psychology which for her was largely about statistics. Statistical data is ...
Dave R's user avatar
  • 101

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