[Edu-sig] Python for CS101

Rodrigo Dias Arruda Senra rsenra at acm.org
Tue May 3 00:27:21 CEST 2005

 [ "Douglas S. Blank" <dblank at brynmawr.edu> ]
 | I am proposing that we move our intro courses at Bryn Mawr College to 
 | Python. Although I have been using Python for a few years, and have
 | used it in the upper-level courses for teaching robotics, I haven't
 | taught an intro course with it.
 | I am now responding to my colleagues' questions. If you have useful 
 | comments, or if you have questions too, please feel free to add them here:

 I have used Python in three courses: 
   (a) Introduction to Programming
   (b) Data Structures
   (c) Algorithm Analysis

 In (a) it served to balance the different backgrounds. Many students
 were not familiar to programming logic, but some knew VB, Pascal or even
 C++. Adopting Python kept all of them interested. The first two weeks
 we used turtle.py to explore some basic constructs such as: loops, 
 subroutines, counters, logic.  

 In (b) they learned C, but Python was used to introduce the concept and
 use cases of lists. After doing a C-linked-list implementation, we used
 a Python wrapper to test it collectively.

 In (c) we used Python to explore some algorithms in class, introducing
 modifications suggested by the students on-line, plotting graphics to
 investigate some algorithms grows behaviour (later comparing it to theoretical

 Most of all, it was a wonderful tool for the teacher him(her)self, allowing
 the construction of tools to better explore the subject.
 Other languages would be probably defeated by our (at least mine) intrinsic
 laziness (sometimes called 'lack of time').

 All these pedagogical experiments took place in Brazil-SP between 2002 and 

 Hope that helps,
 Rod Senra

   | )          Rodrigo Senra       <rsenra |at| acm.org>                      
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