Kenya, Teaching

I have been teaching two classes to students this semester: Introduction to Programming and Algorithms and Network Essentials. So I’ve spent the past eight or nine weeks lecturing, giving assignments, and issuing CATs. I just gave the third CAT to my programming students and I thought it was pretty fair, but I was surprised at the results. Every student got this question completely wrong:

int main()
int salary = 15000;

if( salary > 15000 )
cout << "You have a nice job!" << endl; } else { cout << "You need a new job!" << endl; } }

Asked what this small program would print when executed, they all answered “3.” I wrote this question to test understanding of two concepts: the conditional if/else structure and the “>” operator. I figured that even if the students didn’t understand the programming syntax, logic alone would guide them. After all, “greater-than” is a concept in plenty of other disciplines besides computer science.

It’s not like I haven’t been teaching them! We have definitely talked about both of these concepts in class, and I even had them try similar examples in the computer lab over the course of the semester.

Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense, like the people who built a machine to calculate the purpose of life, the universe, and everything in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy; the machine spent millions of years calculating, only to spit out “42.” Maybe “3” is the right answer and I’m just not asking the right question, haha.

Kenya, Teaching

Well it’s official, I’m a teacher now!  A new semester is here and I’ve now taught for a week and a day!  It’s the beginning of week two and I’ve had five class sessions already.  This semester I’ll be teaching three units: Networking Essentials and Introduction to Programming and Algorithms for the students, and Introduction to Linux for the staff.  That’s one class every day, so I’ll be very busy writing lesson plans, assignments, and continuous assessment tests (CATs)…

On the first day of class I usually write my name, the course number, and the course title on the board.  Last semester I wrote “Mr. Orth” and a few students giggled; I guess they could see right through the act, as I’m not really the formal type.  This semester I told my students to please call me “Alan.”  Among other things, I also tell them to please ask questions.

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