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#1 leon8chicken  Icon User is offline

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Most effective way to learn Programming?

Posted 23 November 2010 - 05:35 PM

I'm doing a Computer Science course and i'm 8 weeks in now. The programming has gotten really hard compared to before. We're now getting less instructions in are notes as to how to do something and just being told to do it. A lot of people haven't firmly grasped everything covered so far.

We're basically told this does this and that does that. We're given an example and then it's on to the next information. It's really different to know what something does than how and when to use it.

In labs we're usually asked to do a task with an existing program. They usually want to modify a program in some way. They will say something like change the program to produce the following output. You need to use a while loop inside this part of the code. This sort of thing is usually okay if I've used similar types of code several times but when it's something new it can take me hours which usually leads me to the internet to find an explanation.


The problems I usually have are as follows:

1) I can't always write the code because I don't know or can't remember the syntax.

2) When the syntax is correct and the program wont run because of some error.

3) Not knowing how to go about solving a problem with the knowledge of programming I have.

4) Trying to use something new for example a function and encountering errors immediately


Can I please have some good advice on how to tackle these common problems?

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Replies To: Most effective way to learn Programming?

#2 duffman18  Icon User is offline

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Re: Most effective way to learn Programming?

Posted 23 November 2010 - 10:34 PM

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1) I can't always write the code because I don't know or can't remember the syntax.


For syntax, you shouldn't really worry about that. Learning syntax will come with time and practice you can't really speed that process along.

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2) When the syntax is correct and the program wont run because of some error.


Like syntax this will come with time and practice. The more you program and the more mistakes you make the more you will learn from your mistakes. Soon after you program for a while you will know the common mistakes and begin to see them as you write the program. As for the errors you are having trouble with there are plenty of people on forums like this one that will gladly help you and teach you. All you need to do is attempt the code, and when it is not working post your code here and post your error you are getting.

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3) Not knowing how to go about solving a problem with the knowledge of programming I have.


For this you can also use the forums for this. You probably wont get people to write your code for you, but there are friendly people on here that will help explain and give examples of something that you are having trouble understanding. However, I would recommend finding some friends that are in your programming class to work together with. Usually when someone is having problems with a topic usually at least one person will pick it up and be able to explain it in a better way to their peers than the teacher can. Also what is a better way to learn a subject than teach it to someone else.

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4) Trying to use something new for example a function and encountering errors immediately


I would also recommend studying in a group for this. You can help each other out and help fill the holes in each others notes. Also of course if you don't have a chance to study with other people we can help here too.

I hope my advice helps.
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#3 leon8chicken  Icon User is offline

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Re: Most effective way to learn Programming?

Posted 25 November 2010 - 11:13 AM

View Postduffman18, on 23 November 2010 - 09:34 PM, said:

Quote

1) I can't always write the code because I don't know or can't remember the syntax.


For syntax, you shouldn't really worry about that. Learning syntax will come with time and practice you can't really speed that process along.

Quote

2) When the syntax is correct and the program wont run because of some error.


Like syntax this will come with time and practice. The more you program and the more mistakes you make the more you will learn from your mistakes. Soon after you program for a while you will know the common mistakes and begin to see them as you write the program. As for the errors you are having trouble with there are plenty of people on forums like this one that will gladly help you and teach you. All you need to do is attempt the code, and when it is not working post your code here and post your error you are getting.

Quote

3) Not knowing how to go about solving a problem with the knowledge of programming I have.


For this you can also use the forums for this. You probably wont get people to write your code for you, but there are friendly people on here that will help explain and give examples of something that you are having trouble understanding. However, I would recommend finding some friends that are in your programming class to work together with. Usually when someone is having problems with a topic usually at least one person will pick it up and be able to explain it in a better way to their peers than the teacher can. Also what is a better way to learn a subject than teach it to someone else.

Quote

4) Trying to use something new for example a function and encountering errors immediately


I would also recommend studying in a group for this. You can help each other out and help fill the holes in each others notes. Also of course if you don't have a chance to study with other people we can help here too.

I hope my advice helps.

Thank you for the help. I think i was looking for a quick fix for whenever i get stuck. It can get tedious when you have no idea what's wrong with your program and you've been trying to solve the problem for three hours to no avail. The last problem i brought up is definitely the worst.

When i have to modify a program using something new and don't really understand the code i either have to wait a day or so for a reply from an online forum which is usually very helpful. Other than replies from a forum i have to request help from an assistant which could take a couple of days. I usually find myself having to put my lab work or assignment on hold so i can actually learn how to do it. Learning what recursion is, then replicating some examples from a text book online and modifying them takes a long time. I then try to write my own program and finally try to tackle my assignment.

The problem i usually have is not finishing in time because i get stuck so often. Nothing else that i can remember has taken as long to grasp as programming is taking, apart from English which we are surrounded by, taught and practice basically our whole lives.
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#4 duffman18  Icon User is offline

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Re: Most effective way to learn Programming?

Posted 26 November 2010 - 02:46 AM

I completely understand where you are coming from because when I was going through college which was were I learned to program, I was in the same boat you are. The logic and concepts came so easy for me, but the syntax and actually writing the programs was hard for me to get down. My 3rd semester when I took CS153 which is Data Structures at the University I attended I got 98-100% on all my tests, but I was late on almost all of my programming assignments and ended up having to do extra credit to barely get an A in the class. That A was probably the hardest I had to work for a grade in my life... I put in probably 20-25 hours the last week of classes to finish my final program and extra credit. I would have had a much easier time if I would have not tried to do everything myself. Our CS classes offer like a programming help session where students that have gotten A's in the class are paid to sit in the Computer lab and basically help you with your problems. If I would have learned to use that service sooner I would have easily not have basically needed to pull all nighters several nights just to finish my assignments. Your cs department doesn't even need to offer anything like that, you can just find someone in you class that knows the material well or someone that has already taken the class that will help teach you what you don't understand. Believe me, other students are so much better at explaining confusing topics to people that are having a hard time understanding than the teacher.

Also probably my most important advice is to attempt your programming assignments ASAP. That way you at least know what questions to ask and it opens up more options for you to go for answers. When you start early you can spare to lose a day or two waiting for a response from an online forum, even tho this forum is pretty good about responding quickly sometimes. Starting early also gives you time to email questions to your teacher or any friend or person that can help you. This is one thing that I had soooooo much trouble with in college. I never started early so if I needed to use something in an assignment that I didn't understand I was screwed because I didn't leave myself time to ask anyone for help. Believe me, I know how hard it can be to start assignments early. I am one of the worst procrastinators of ever, but also when you start early it is so nice to not feel rushed and scrambling just to pass. Plus if you start early and don't have problems it is super nice to finish early and you can just forget about the assignment and party every night....or do whatever you like to do instead of homework :bigsmile:

I am glad to see that you are at least not giving up and keep pushing your way through this class. Many of my friends in college that had trouble with programming just ended up giving up and found a different major that didn't require as much programming. I think the more you program the easier things will come. Just hang in there and if you have any questions just post them here. You can also PM me too if you want, especially if you need an answer quickly. That way I will get an email saying that I have a PM here, and hopefully someone will see your post or I will be able to answer your questions.
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