5 Replies - 379 Views - Last Post: 05 November 2018 - 10:46 AM

#1 mike1127   User is offline

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studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 04 November 2018 - 05:16 PM

I'm a private tutor and I have a couple high school students this year in AP Computer Science Principles. Their parents and I are concerned that their class isn't teaching things in a systematic or clean way, and they are totally confused. Can I get some advice about good online resources or books to help me to help them study?
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Replies To: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

#2 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 04 November 2018 - 06:57 PM

Can you be more concrete about the areas of concern? What are the specific topics that your students are having trouble with, and what sort of trouble are they having? If you can give an example of the sort of confusion you're seeing, that would be informative.
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#3 mike1127   User is offline

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Re: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 04 November 2018 - 10:44 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 04 November 2018 - 06:57 PM, said:

Can you be more concrete about the areas of concern? What are the specific topics that your students are having trouble with, and what sort of trouble are they having? If you can give an example of the sort of confusion you're seeing, that would be informative.


It's pretty much everything, so I'm looking for comprehensive study guides to AP Computer Science Principles (hereafter APCSP).

I can say a little about specifics. I believe there are three areas: (1) programming problems (the ability to read and understand an algorithm), (2) non-programming questions about databases, the internet, etc., and (3) a personal project.

The teacher is using the CodeHS unit for the APCSP. It has both programming puzzles (write code to maneuver a "dog" to a location, etc.) and lectures on the data/internet type of information on the APCSP. Next semester will be devoted in part to the personal projects.

The trouble is that the teacher has given them programming assignments way over their head and stealing time from really understanding the CodeHS assignments. Like enormously complicated web pages or Javascript game assignments. Then he gives them A's for meeting superficial requirements even though they haven't learned much.

For instance, despite having completed a dozen programming assignments, my students didn't know the purpose of a function or how to pass function arguments. Yes, they had *used* functions and arguments, but only by copying off each other or the internet.

My main student's knowledge is so disorganized at this point, I don't know if she'll be able to do the actual questions on the APCSP exam.

The irony is that those questions are pretty easy and don't need anything like these complex assignments.

CodeHS also provides lecture videos on the non-programming topics, with some assignments afterward. The problem here is that the teacher is going through them at double speed. He's aiming to complete an entire year's CodeHS syllabus in less than a semester. So I think my students' understanding of these topics will be fragile as well.

In short, I want to know how to shore up their knowledge and make it secure. I know all the APCSP information in the essence of course, but I'd like to tutor them from a good study guide so that I can be sure to use the exact terminology as the APCSP and put the emphasis in the right areas.

Mike
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#4 snoopy11   User is offline

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Re: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 05 November 2018 - 01:18 AM

Well having looked at this you are of course correct,

The ideas behind the course are basic, intentionally so, because the intended audience is school children.

Obvious places to look for resources.

https://apcentral.co...ence-principles

less obvious places to look for resources

https://introcomputing.org/

A book that covers modern computer principles a bit hefty at over 1000 pages but it seems to be recommended for APCSP

https://www.amazon.c...=dp_ob_title_bk

The APCSP course itself is quite broad with many routes to the same destination, the idea is to teach broad computer principles and the Teacher at your Students school seems to be Teaching things that are way off the scope of the syllabus.

Javascript is one of the routes, however, the Javascript route is supposed to teach simple things like how to print Hello or 1+99 = 100 for example, or how to manipulate pixel data in a very basic way on images.

I would certainly cover SOLID principles and go over variables and functions with the students.

a resource for going over SOLID principles here

https://thefullstack...olid-javascript

but apart from that, you are not going to need much more to allow your Students to get a good grade.
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#5 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 05 November 2018 - 10:39 AM

@mike1127, That's a little bit broad, to be honest. I mean, there are lots of resources out there for teaching computer science and most of them are either crap or useless or both. Certainly if you want a go-to solution on the web for "computer science, generally", I don't think you're going to find anything worth bothering with. There ain't no such animal.

Computer science, as you know, is a discipline, not a course. This means that any course called "AP Computer Science" is going to be a year-long high school treatment of a bachelor's degree.

So again, if you have specific places where your students are getting hung up, I think you'll be more likely to get useful help than by looking for something "comprehensive".

Quote

The trouble is that the teacher has given them programming assignments way over their head and stealing time from really understanding the CodeHS assignments.


Is this a problem with the teacher not understanding the scope of the assignments, or is this a problem with the students not understanding the material? If you feel that the assignments are not reasonable or appropriate, then it would be sensible to meet with the teacher and discuss the situation. Possibly they're not aware that the students are having trouble, or perhaps you can help them craft more reasonable assignments, or perhaps some of the work the teacher is looking for would be more appropriately thought of as extra credit.

If the students are having trouble completing assignments that they really ought to be able to manage, then that's where a tutor can help, and that's where we can help a tutor. If there are specific concepts that a student is having trouble getting their head around, it's possible that we can offer some suggestions that would help you get them over those hurdles.
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#6 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: studying for AP Computer Science Principles

Posted 05 November 2018 - 10:46 AM

Sounds like this CodeHS thing may be the issue as well as the instructor. Perhaps a sit down chat with folk to talk about changing the source instead of patching the symptoms.
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