[Tutor] newbie

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Nov 7 14:56:40 EST 2003

> I'd be interested in reading these studies. As a librarian I'm
> skeptical.

OK, the studies were published (as a summary article of course)
in HOOT(I think, maybe JOOP) back in the early 1990's - I'd
guess 1992?

> and librarians. Most library students I know came from english and
> history and things like that.

Hmm, Librarians in the UK are university graduates, often
with a masters degree in the subject. Are we talking about
the same thing? They all get taught programming and computers
as part of the degree course.

> For example, in one of my classes the prof took an hour to introduce
> IF-THEN-ELSE. This was a completely new concept to most students.

Exactly but with OOP you very rarely see an If/Then/Else branch...
OK thats an obvious exageration but polymorphism does away with
a lot of it, and the studies worked on that principle. They
started them playing with objects not algorithms. Send a message
to an object and watch it dance. The object knows what do do
according to its type. Objects of relate types behave in similar
ways etc... So the teaching was focused on teaching objects from
the outside in rather than the traditional CS approach of teaching
you how to build a class then instantiate it(huh?) and finally
use it... Actually writing methods was about the last thing they
showed them.

> an easy credit). The last two weeks covered wiring databases to the
> web using Cold Fusion. Basic concepts like variables, data types,
> and flow control were big conceptual leaps for these students.

Absolutely and most of these are irrelevant in a pure OO world.
Objects are objects and they pass messages. No need to worry about
types, operators etc.

> I know that Kay had success teaching smalltalk to kids, but my
> experience with librarians makes me skeptical about teaching them
> OOP. So I'm *real* curious about these studies.

FWIW There are other studies (but I don't know if they were published)
that showed that bankers learnt programming via OOP faster than
traditional style too. This was late '90s when many finance houses
ditched their spreadsheets for vertical Smalltalk modelling tools.

Alan G.

PS I may still have a paper copy of the Librarians article, if
so I'll try to find it over the weekend.

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