[Edu-sig] introduction

Richard Enbody enbody at cse.msu.edu
Thu Mar 20 21:38:44 CET 2008

Ah, pair-programming.  We believe in pair-programming, but haven't 
figured out the best way to integrate it into this class.  Here is what 
we do.  Our weekly 'closed' labs require students to work in pairs on 
the in-lab problems.  That has been very successful, although we do get 
resistance from a few students.  We have weekly programming assignments 
('projects' in the course nomenclature) that results in 11 over the 
semester.  For a few years we have had at least one programming 
assignment which required pair-programming, but we have not had more 
than two such assignments.  Those have been very successful.  So, why 
not have all as pair-programming?  I don't have a good defensible 
answer.  Even worse is that we didn't have any pair-programming 
assignments this year because of the time expended on the transition to 
Python.  My hope is that when we reach steady-state (maybe 'if' we reach 
steady-state) that we will be able to expand the number of 
pair-programming assignments.  Pair-programming research states that the 
grading should be non-competitive, and we do have that structure, so we 
do have something to build on.

Also, we do have in-class exercises that we encourage students to do in 

Unfortunately, we do get students handing in code they didn't do -- a 
small minority, but a problem nonetheless.  I wonder what would happen 
to such students in a purely pair-programming environment.  Some 
research indicates that weak students would be pulled up sufficiently to 
not feel a need to cheat, but not all.

I do need to get to PyCon and other Python venues, but travel funds are 
an issue.  Here, the only travel funds are what you generate on research 
grants, and since none are related to Python I cannot use them.  I need 
to be more creative.  :-)

(Also, it looks like a long-winded reply to an earlier question is being 
held per review of a moderator -- probably due to an attachment.  Part 
of the learning curve, I guess.)

enbody at cse.msu.edu

Anna Ravenscroft wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 8:31 AM, Richard Enbody <enbody at cse.msu.edu> wrote:
>> Greetings.
>>  I'm a professor in Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State
>>  University, and we started using Python last fall (2007) in our first
>>  programming course for majors (CS and CpE), i.e. a 'CS1' course.
>>  However, more than half the students are non-majors. The URL is
>>  http://www.cse.msu.edu/~cse231
> The syllabus looks interesting.  I notice your emphasis on not
> allowing others to "look at" a student's solution. Given that most
> coding these days involves teamwork, pair programming, or at least,
> code reviews, are you considering any pair-programming or small team
> projects in future iterations of the class? I believe some
> universities have moved toward incorporating some team or partner
> projects to help overcome the "loner" stereotype of programmers, and
> draw more women and other populations to the major.
>>  I'm looking forward to interacting with you all (and I'm embarrassed
>>  that it took me so long to find this list).
> Welcome!  Perhaps we'll meet you at PyCon next year? (It'll be in
> Chicago again next spring.)

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