[Edu-sig] a non-rhetorical question

Vern Ceder vceder at canterburyschool.org
Fri Jul 6 01:44:36 CEST 2007


We do brief surveys with 8th and 9th graders, so I'm somewhat familiar 
with the age and skill level. I would say that *most* students should be 
able to answer this question after 4 weeks (depending on how much 
looping they've done, of course). By "answer" I don't mean necessarily 
get full credit, but at least get the basic idea right - setting up a 
while loop and prompting for user input.

The tricky part is the compound nature of the test - if they haven't 
done that much with boolean expressions, it might be beyond them, while 
looking just for "Mr. Judkis" it wouldn't be. So if they had everything 
else right, but couldn't get the boolean expression right (or figure out 
some work-around with an extra "if" or two[1]), I wouldn't count that as 
a complete failure.

Finally, in answer to your last question, I would say that they hadn't 
learned *much* programming *yet*. ;-)

Seriously, that may not be a good question - presumably they've learnd 
to sequence instructions, to handle some expressions, basic 
input/output, some looping, etc, so it depends on how you set the standard.


Vern Ceder

[1] There will always be one wise-guy who will do an endless "while 
true:" loop with at least 3 "breaks", or some such... ;-)

Andy Judkis wrote:
> I've just completed my 6th semester as a teacher, teaching 2 sections per 
> semester of a 10th grade course that includes a 4 week introduction to 
> programming in Python.  Here's a question from one of my exams:
>     Write Python code that will ask the user how who is the best looking 
> teacher in the school.  The program must loop until the user responds either 
> "Mrs. McGrath" or "Mr. Judkis".  If the use responds "Mr. Judkis", the 
> program must print out "Excellent choice."  If the user responds "Mrs. 
> McGrath", the program must print out "Also a fine choice."  If the user 
> responds with anything else, the program must print out "Wrong, sorry." and 
> ask again.
> Rather than catalog my frustrations, let me just pose a question to you 
> all -- how much Python exposure do you think it should take before a student 
> should be able to answer this question?  If a student can't even answer 
> this, is it reasonable to say that they have learned any programming at all? 
> (I know that they might have learned something -about- programming, but that 
> is not the same thing.)
> Thanks,
> Andy Judkis
> (By the way, anybody out there going to be at CS4HS next week at CMU?  If so 
> I'd love to get together with you . . )
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This time for sure!
    -Bullwinkle J. Moose
Vern Ceder, Director of Technology
Canterbury School, 3210 Smith Road, Ft Wayne, IN 46804
vceder at canterburyschool.org; 260-436-0746; FAX: 260-436-5137

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