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Isn't That the Point of a Weed-Out Class?

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Where have the weed-out classes gone? Why is our educational system allowing students to advance to more challenging classes when they clearly lack a grasp on the basics? Something needs to be done. This thread is a symptom of the problem. There is no reason a student should be in a data structures class when he or she clearly does not understand the basics like data types on comparing Strings. That's not to say there is anything wrong with not knowing Java (or any other language) well. It just means one should not then be put in a situation (this includes putting oneself in such a situation) where the work required is significantly greater than one's knowledgebase or skill level.

I honestly think our weed-out classes should be a lot tougher on students. The point should be to weed out students who aren't ready for the more advanced classes.

27 Comments On This Entry

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atraub Icon

01 May 2011 - 03:45 PM
In the USA, it seems like our society wants to say that every student is a genius. If that student fails a course, it surely must be the fault of the faculty. Students are getting lazier and faculty are facilitating it. A friend of mine recently told me that she and two others were the only people passing her class CSCI. The professor actually decided he'd give two finals. The first final is the "real" final and your grade on that will replace all your other exam grades (so long as it's higher). The second final is an easier one, but if you pass it you're guaranteed a C-... I was mortified!


gregwhitworth, on 30 April 2011 - 05:58 PM, said:

Sergio Tapia, on 30 April 2011 - 03:41 PM, said:

Also a pro-tip: Get to know your teachers. Even just talking to them will make your face stand out from the sea of crowds and when he's grading your paper/exam and recognizes your name, he'll remember your face and you're interaction with him and that will probably net you some brownie points.

Social engineering at it's finest. It's the difference between a 89 and a 93 passing mark. ;)

Another pro-tip, don't assume all of your teachers are men, that could mean the difference between an 89 and 50. :bigsmile:

Proper grammar dictates that when you don't know the gender of the person you are referring to, you refer to them in the masculine form.

RetardedGenius Icon

02 May 2011 - 05:01 AM

Topher84, on 01 May 2011 - 08:54 PM, said:

What they SHOULD tell students coming into CS is that just because your mom and brother say you are amazing at Halo and can install a video card, does NOT mean you are cut out for CS. Like I said in my first post, as a college professor/lecturer/whatever you cannot fail the majority of your class. There are things called reviews that students fill out about you and also, there are budget issues. If you constantly fail half of your class(es), get bad reviews, and not pass students on to the next set of classes, your department/university will lose money. Is this right? no, but that's the way the world is right now.

That's very true, it's a shame really. But if anything I imagine the competent programmers are weeded-out in the interview process for a job. All it takes is a 15 minutes in front of a computer and a trivial programming task, to see if the candidate is really a programmer at all.

Apparently most "Programmers" applying for jobs today can't even write a simple Fizz-Buzz style program...

Curtis Rutland Icon

02 May 2011 - 10:54 AM
[@macosxnerd101], I'll just say, you have the patience of a saint. At least he's willing to try what you say, but I usually would bail out after a point where it becomes obvious that even if I did manage to help with this particular problem, they're not going to make it thorough the class anyway.

The only time I put that much effort into a thread is when the OP really gets it, and is working together with me to learn something new.

macosxnerd101 Icon

02 May 2011 - 12:19 PM
I look at it this way. First and foremost, it may benefit a Googler and DIC traffic. The OP may not get to a point where he or she can complete the assignment. If he or she does, great. And at this point, if the OP can't figure out how to even use the compiler, well, underwater basket weaving is a great major. :)

Yamis Icon

03 May 2011 - 04:31 PM
My favorite was when a senior raised his hand one day and started angrily telling the teacher that shed never taught us how to do math in base 10 and how if she expects us to do it she better teach it and blah blah. He also leaned over to me one day and whispered "what's a primitive?" during class one time. Guys gonna end up as a professional speed bump some day I think. People make that make me want to go to graduation and physically stop them from walking across the stage.

deery5000 Icon

08 May 2011 - 02:45 PM
year 2 of my degree i had an advanced class in c++ and after just 1 year of programming i was hit with the bomb of a double link list. After completing the beginners class in year one there was no way anyone could have thought that this was waiting for me in year 2.

was is useful for me to learn about double link lists at my level ? NO

being a final year student now and applying for grad positions i can see that this was the huge waste of a year!

Employers want good solid knowledge of OOP thats it.

So to any neebies out there, dont panic and learn OOP inside and out. The rest will come in time

macosxnerd101 Icon

08 May 2011 - 08:46 PM
If you are going for an IT/Business Information Systems degree, data structures aren't as important. In a CS degree, understanding fundamental data structures like Linked Lists is very important.

Will you necessarily be writing your own Linked Lists or using them everyday in the real world? Not necessarily. However, understanding the tradeoffs between a dynamic array and Linked List can help when choosing the better data structure. Understanding the theory behind computation can often allow a developer to design more effective solutions.

I think employers (at least the good ones) and senior developers recognize and look for this, as well. It's not just about coding, but developing effective and efficient solutions. If nothing else, that is what should be taken away from the upper level programming and CS classes.
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