Chance of failing my programming classes

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#1 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:44 PM

This is my 2nd semester taking programming courses and I am afraid that I am going to fail one or the other. Obviously, I do not want to get an F or a D, or even a C for that matter, but my grades are slipping. Just when I start to think that I understand the material, I get a quiz and have no idea what to do. With that being said, programming is what I want to do. Although it does not seem like an easy subject, I'm still going to pursue my degree in Computer Science. With that being said, if worst comes to worst and I fail my course(s) *knock on wood* would it still look bad if I retook and got a better grade? Let's say that I get a D and retake it and get a B or an A, would that look bad on my resume?

I see some pros and cons for this:

One pro, of retaking a class, would be that I would understand the material better the 2nd time around and it would probably help me out in the next class after that.

The con, of retaking a class, would not only be that I failed it, but my graduation date would be pushed back.

I'm not going to give up, HELL NO! But, realistically, Im very worried.
Once again, I just want to know that if it would look bad on my resume if it shows that I retook a class.

Thanks.

This post has been edited by streek405: 22 October 2013 - 07:46 PM


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#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:47 PM

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Once again, I just want to know that if it would look bad on my resume if it shows that I retook a class.

You probably wouldn't put that on your resume. If your employer saw it on a transcript, that might raise some concern. I take it you're in an intro class. So you retake the class. That can be overlooked based on how you do in your future, more advanced classes. People have rough starts sometimes. It's how you come out of it that means more.

Also, have you considered talking with your professor to figure out a game plan to improve?
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#3 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:18 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 22 October 2013 - 07:47 PM, said:

You probably wouldn't put that on your resume. If your employer saw it on a transcript, that might raise some concern. I take it you're in an intro class. So you retake the class. That can be overlooked based on how you do in your future, more advanced classes. People have rough starts sometimes. It's how you come out of it that means more.

Also, have you considered talking with your professor to figure out a game plan to improve?

The two classes that I am talking about are: Data Structures and Computer Architecture/Assembly. I see how Data Structures is important but I honestly could not careless about the architecture class -- it seems more for a software engineer, something that I am not interested in.

And you're right, I really should speak to my professors. I really do like learning, but sometimes my mind cant absorb anything...

Thank you, though.

This post has been edited by streek405: 23 October 2013 - 07:18 PM

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#4 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:43 PM

I had a rough time my first go round with Computer Architecture. It made me rethink being a CS major. I ended up switching to a Discrete Math major, which was more theoretical CS and less of what I wasn't interested in. At the end of the day, I've gotten more out of my math classes than my CS classes. I'm also minoring in CS, so I can take the classes in the CS department that I want to take. Everyone's path is different. You have to figure out what's best for you. Computer Science isn't limited to a CS degree.
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#5 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 23 October 2013 - 08:36 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 23 October 2013 - 07:43 PM, said:

Computer Science isn't limited to a CS degree.

I've always wondered why, when I look up at job descriptions for programming and what not, that it states you either need a CS degree or math degree. But dont you actually need to know the programming language to code or are they just interested in people with good problem solving skills?
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#6 Michael26  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:52 AM

I think that programming is just that a "problem solving skill", and programming language is the tool to achieve that. You would need to know what you want(the problem) and how to break that problem into smaller more manageable chucks that will be more easily solved.
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#7 Ryano121  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 25 October 2013 - 06:01 AM

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With that being said, programming is what I want to do


Quote

it seems more for a software engineer, something that I am not interested in.


This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The two are pretty much the same.


On a more related note what is the core of the issue here? Why are you failing? There must be some route cause - effort put in maybe?

It should also be noted that retaking is all well and good, but you still have to actually make the grade. What makes you think you will do better next time round? Why can't you do the same this time and save yourself some time?
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#8 Hqtitan  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 25 October 2013 - 06:12 PM

I'm kinda in the same boat. For me, I know that I would do much better a second time, but it's not really something that I can fix this time.

I don't know if it's me or the teacher, or both, but I very rarely fully understand something that I'm doing wrong in an assignment until after I get the assignment back and see that I did something wrong. From there, the teacher might give an explanation in class, or I can figure out on my own why it's wrong. I'm learning a lot, actually. My grade just doesn't reflect it much, because my learning style isn't really too compatible with my teacher's teaching style.
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:00 PM

View PostHqtitan, on 25 October 2013 - 08:12 PM, said:

I don't know if it's me or the teacher, or both,


It's usually safest to assume that it's you. Not because it couldn't be the teacher, but in all honesty my experience teaches me that when I see a teacher complaining about a student, I'm usually looking at a bad teacher, and when I see a student complaining about a teacher, I'm usually seeing a bad student.

In any case, it doesn't matter much, because you're going to have a lot better results trying to change yourself than you will trying to change the teacher. If it's the teacher that's the problem, then there's not much you can do about the matter, and so you're pretty much giving up. But if you figure it's you, who knows, you might even figure out how to get something out of the class, even though it's all the teacher's fault after all. And, to continue in that line, if you learn to learn well even from a faulty teacher, think how well you'll do when you get a really great teacher.



Quote

I'm learning a lot, actually. My grade just doesn't reflect it much, because my learning style isn't really too compatible with my teacher's teaching style.


So you're learning a lot, just not in time to get the grade? You might want to consider that making deadlines is very important in industry. Getting it right eventually is great, but getting right in time to be useful is what matters. So you might want to figure out a way to step up your pace a little, and get the stuff learned before the test, rather than after.
How do you do that? One thing you could try would be to ask the teacher to issue a practice test, and then take that test as if it were the real thing. Better still, you could get together with some of your fellow students and test each other: each of you makes up a problem that you think could appear on the test, and you try to stump each other. This is a surprisingly good trick: it forces you to think about the material from a different angle, which is one of the best ways to really learn it.
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#10 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 27 October 2013 - 03:49 PM

View PostRyano121, on 25 October 2013 - 06:01 AM, said:

Why can't you do the same this time and save yourself some time?


In all honestly, I got myself into this due to a lack of effort in the beginning. Believe me, I do NOT want to retake a class. Dont take what Im about to say as a lame excuse but both of the books I am reading for these classes SUCK! They could not make it more vague and confusing it they wanted to. Now, I may not be able to pick up a programming book and read it for hours on end, but the authors really did not think about their audience when writing it, or at least my teachers didnt think about the students when they assigned it. Regardless, I pay attention in class, take good notes, and I always ask questions if I dont understand it. But guess something went wrong on that note because when I think I understand it and the project is assigned, Im just thinking to myself "Im I that dumb?" I know what Im supposed to do, I just dont necessarily know how to code it sometimes.

And I've always have terrible test anxiety which kills my grade, unless its math.
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#11 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 27 October 2013 - 07:53 PM

Making assumptions is a great lesson in development. Don't make them, ask for clarification. I have always bugged the crap out of my teachers, bit me now, because, if something was vague to me and I understood what was happening I knew there were people who were completely lost in class with me. So, I had the instructor explain and clarify until it left little doubt as to what was expected. But on a side note I also talked with those instructors for hours after class and they figured out what I was doing.
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#12 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 27 October 2013 - 08:30 PM

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Dont take what Im about to say as a lame excuse but both of the books I am reading for these classes SUCK! They could not make it more vague and confusing it they wanted to.

Sounds like my Combinatorics and Linear Algebra textbooks. Both are better desk references than learn it as you go.

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But guess something went wrong on that note because when I think I understand it and the project is assigned, Im just thinking to myself "Im I that dumb?" I know what Im supposed to do, I just dont necessarily know how to code it sometimes.

Start early and go into office hours when you need help. You pay the tuition dollars that pay the professor's salary (and the TA's wages). You're certainly entitled to go in and get help. Why spend hours banging your head against the book when half an hour with the professor in office hours or a quick email could clear things up?
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#13 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:28 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 27 October 2013 - 08:30 PM, said:

Start early and go into office hours when you need help. You pay the tuition dollars that pay the professor's salary (and the TA's wages). You're certainly entitled to go in and get help. Why spend hours banging your head against the book when half an hour with the professor in office hours or a quick email could clear things up?


I know, but I sometimes there are either too many students in line or I get the feeling that he's just tired of all the questions.
But you're 100%. I am paying my teachers salary, so they damn better help me understand something if I have questions.
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#14 Hqtitan  Icon User is offline

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:20 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 25 October 2013 - 07:00 PM, said:

View PostHqtitan, on 25 October 2013 - 08:12 PM, said:

I don't know if it's me or the teacher, or both,


It's usually safest to assume that it's you. Not because it couldn't be the teacher, but in all honesty my experience teaches me that when I see a teacher complaining about a student, I'm usually looking at a bad teacher, and when I see a student complaining about a teacher, I'm usually seeing a bad student.

In any case, it doesn't matter much, because you're going to have a lot better results trying to change yourself than you will trying to change the teacher. If it's the teacher that's the problem, then there's not much you can do about the matter, and so you're pretty much giving up. But if you figure it's you, who knows, you might even figure out how to get something out of the class, even though it's all the teacher's fault after all. And, to continue in that line, if you learn to learn well even from a faulty teacher, think how well you'll do when you get a really great teacher.



Quote

I'm learning a lot, actually. My grade just doesn't reflect it much, because my learning style isn't really too compatible with my teacher's teaching style.


So you're learning a lot, just not in time to get the grade? You might want to consider that making deadlines is very important in industry. Getting it right eventually is great, but getting right in time to be useful is what matters. So you might want to figure out a way to step up your pace a little, and get the stuff learned before the test, rather than after.
How do you do that? One thing you could try would be to ask the teacher to issue a practice test, and then take that test as if it were the real thing. Better still, you could get together with some of your fellow students and test each other: each of you makes up a problem that you think could appear on the test, and you try to stump each other. This is a surprisingly good trick: it forces you to think about the material from a different angle, which is one of the best ways to really learn it.



This particular teacher is quite erratic and hard to follow in his teaching. He often jumps around many subjects during a lecture. He also gives subtle hints toward what he wants from us in assignments, but never gives us a clear definition of what he's looking for. Also, this isn't just me having problems with this class. Pretty much everyone else that I have talked to that is in the class with me is having the same issues.

I am trying my best in this class, and that involves quite a bit of research outside of class to learn the things that I'm supposed to be learning in the class. When we get assignments back, if it's not exactly what he's looking for, he'll mark us down for it, even though his directions are extremely vague. His comments run along the lines of, "Nope," or "Wrong," etc., and gives absolutely no hints at a direction to take to figure out what I've done wrong.

During class on several occasions, he's also mentioned that most students going through this class will finish with somewhere between a C- and a B-, and that many also fail the class and have to take it again. He's been teaching for 14 years, and this has been the case for the entirety of that time period. I don't understand why he doesn't look at the class and how he's teaching it, and ask why students have such a difficult time with doing well, and do something to help his students learn better.


I understand the whole bad teacher vs. bad student thing. I've had both good teachers and bad teachers, and I've seen the "bad" students who will say their teacher is bad just because they don't do the work and are failing the class.


Long story short, I've just been having an incredibly difficult time figuring out a way to make this work where I will actually learn the things that I am supposed to be learning in these classes. I go to a fairly small school, and we've only got two computer science professors, so it's not like I get through this class and I won't have to deal with this teaching again. He teaches half of our computer science classes, so I'd better figure out how to make this work sooner rather than later.
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#15 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Chance of failing my programming classes

Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:43 PM

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he's also mentioned that most students going through this class will finish with somewhere between a C- and a B-, and that many also fail the class and have to take it again. He's been teaching for 14 years, and this has been the case for the entirety of that time period. I don't understand why he doesn't look at the class and how he's teaching it, and ask why students have such a difficult time with doing well, and do something to help his students learn better.


Sounds like he wants an A to mean something. If he's been doing this for 14 years, then maybe he's learned something in that time, and you should trust his instincts and try to do it his way.

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I am trying my best in this class, and that involves quite a bit of research outside of class to learn the things that I'm supposed to be learning in the class.


This is a good thing. A class where you can just repeat back what the teacher told you and get a passing grade isn't really a good use of your time, is it?

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When we get assignments back, if it's not exactly what he's looking for, he'll mark us down for it, even though his directions are extremely vague. His comments run along the lines of, "Nope," or "Wrong," etc., and gives absolutely no hints at a direction to take to figure out what I've done wrong.


What does he do when you ask him about the marks? If you go to him and ask for an explanation, does he provide one?

If not, there are other students in the class. Start a study group, and work it out. All problems are shallow, if there are enough eyeballs looking at them.
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