[BangPypers] how to learn programming

Pradeep Gowda pradeep at btbytes.com
Sun Jan 25 23:38:18 CET 2009

Hopefully this scientific study with hard numbers conveys what I was
saying in my earlier mail about Python being a better choice for
learning vocational programming.

This is the summary of a talk accepted for PyCon 2009.

Python for CS1 Not Harmful to CS Majors (and good for everyone)

Dr. Bill Punch (Michigan State University) bio; Dr. Richard J Enbody
(Michigan State University)
30min Intermediate
At Michigan State Computer Science Dept. we have recently converted
our CS1 course (200 students/semester, about 60% non-CS majors) to
Python, previously taught in C++. Follow on courses for CS majors
(CS2, etc.) still use and teach C/C++. Right around the conversion
point, we had two groups of students taking the C++ CS2 course: those
that took CS1 in Python and those that took CS1 in C++. We examined
the performance of those two groups of students in the CS2-C++ course
(covering the same topics as previously), looking for any significant
differences as measured by t-test with respect to: final exam grade,
overall programming project scores and final course grade. No
significant differences between CS1-Python and CS1-C++ were found.
Further, multiple regression analysis showed that only GPA was a good
predictor of the three outcomes. Neither CS-1 Python nor CS1-C++ was a
predictor. Our conclusion is that a CS1-Python course was as good a
preparation for a CS2-C++ course as was a CS1-C++ course. Furthermore,
CS1-Python was a far better terminal course for non-majors than
CS1-C++, and both majors and non-majors were could address a wider
range of practical STEM problem than previously. We have written a
CS1-Python book for others who wish to teach a Python-CS1 course that
emphasizes teaching Python to CS1 students with a theme of data


On Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 10:07 PM, Roshan Mathews <rmathews at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 2:56 AM, Sridhar Ratnakumar
> <sridhar.ratna at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 7:46 AM, Roshan Mathews <rmathews at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> The 'knowing the rules' vs. 'being proficient' argument is
> >> also made in SICP
> >> <http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book-Z-H-11.html#%_sec_1.2>
> >> ... another good read, (Indian version of the dead trees version
> >> available from University Press.)
> >
> > Are you referring to this argument?
> >
> Yes.  KG was making a similar point about golf, I think.
> >
> > Speaking of SICP,
> > http://eli.thegreenplace.net/2008/04/18/sicp-conclusion/ (must have
> > been quite a feeling of achievement!)
> >
> Indeed.  http://eli.thegreenplace.net/2008/06/06/signed-copy-of-sicp/ :)
> ~Roshan
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