The people who don't learn are not motivated and not enthusiastic

That is an incredibly complacent attitude, pedagogically. I'm not suprised to hear it, I'm afraid.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Lindsay Marshall" <>
To: "R Bartlett" <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009 11:50 PM
Subject: RE: "Intuitiveness" of programming languages/paradigms

us not consider them further. Consider all the motivated, enthusiastic
students who fail to program instead. They should be of concern.

I am not aware of anyone who is motivated and enthusiastic about programming who fails to learn to program. The people who don't learn are not motivated and not enthusiastic. They have tried it and don't like it. it is usually nothing to do with the teaching. (Note, yes, poor teaching does exist but rarely at this important level any more)

I think it is a well known fact that many universities struggle with getting
half or more of their CS intake to program. They should be of concern.

Why do you think they are not of concern? (Most) Universities are very concerned about people on their courses who cannot perform, but computing courses have an additional burden that they have many students who have ended up there by default - they don't know what to do at university and feel they have to go and people say to them "do a computing course, there are lots of jobs and you like games and internet". They have not programmed and when they do they find they don't like it. You can't make people like something they don't want to.

Nevertheless, the situation is that many HE CS departments have large
numbers of students on roll who avoid programming as much as possible. I
would deem that to be a most unsatisfoactory state of affairs to all

And of course it is when that is the case. Why do you assume it is not?

If I were running a CS department, I would make it a priority to
turn weak students round in the first term. A massive effort wodl be needed,
calling all hands to the deck - engaging P/T tutors, perhaps even from the
ranks of other students. But the investment would be worth it. More than
resources, it calls for a sea change in attitude, from counting bums on
seats to one of a pedagogical 'can do'.

Umm, I suspect that you haven't actually been near a University CS department for a while have you? What do you think we try to do? Exactly this, but as I pointed out before there is only a finite and limited amount of resource available - money, skilled people and time are the bottom lines and there is never enough of either of them to organise this kind of intensive teaching. We also have to meet all kinds of requirements about content forced on us by "professional" bodies and such like things which also restrict time available. If you were running a CS department you would find that your hands were pretty much tied.

If we could get decent computing teaching in schools then we could behave like all the other subjects and ask for relevant entry qualifications but at the moment we can't do this, so the weeding out process happens at too high a level and much too late.


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