CP Mid-Semester Feedback Response 2017/18

We received 40 responses to the request for feedback. The original responses can be seen here. (Number 1 was a test.)

If you have any further comments, please feel free to do so on this Piazza post.

Level of difficulty

Responses to the challenge level question were: tooeasy=3; ok=20; hard=14; toohard=3. On the whole, we feel that's about right.

Things working well

The most cited thing was the labs, but there were a few other multiply cited things too: We're glad the labs are still seen to be working well -- they were mostly designed by Mary Cryan, who used to be the lead lecturer, and still tutors on the course.

Handing out dead tree is always a bit controversial, but we're not surprised to see that a number of people still appreciate it. Incidentally, there's evidence that even doodling on paper (or any other physical activity) increases your retention of lecture material, never mind taking notes!

It's interesting that nobody mentioned the dashboard. It was quite a lot of work to create it last year, and I (Julian) did so because I thought it would be useful ... maybe it's included under "Labs"!

Things not working so well

Happily, quite a few people left this blank. Things mentioned more than once: Pace comes down to balancing across a wide range of abilities, and overall we think if we go much slower, we risk boring half the class.

Lecturers assuming prior knowledge was also mentioned last year. As Julian said in the first lecture, it can be very hard for us to have a firm grasp on what an arbitrary undergraduate student either does or should know, so you should shout if we assume something you don't know! If any of you can point to a concrete example of prior knowledge being assumed, please let Julian know what it is.

A fair number of people find tutorials unhelpful, but about the same number cited them as a positive thing. It would be interesting to know whether this is tutor dependent.

All material should be published no later than the standard 24 hours in advance, but for much of it it's simply a matter of the responsible lecturer being better organized to get it out even earlier, since much of it changes little from year to year.

Ideas to try out

Some things mentioned more than once: It's clear that many students would like more interactive lecturers with more examples of code, and live coding. Ajitha has been doing some of this, but many of the topics are a very tight fit in the one or two lectures given to them, so some redesign would be needed to do much more - and Julian spent most of three lectures talking about the writing of one small program ...

A radical possibility would be to convert the whole course to flipped classroom, so that you would watch videos before the "lecture", and the "lecture" would be entirely devoted to examples and discussions. Flipping a course is a great deal of work, but is something a new organizer could consider!

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