Evaluation Comments
Course:Concepts of Programming Languages

Quarter:Spring 06/07
Time: ::: - :::
Location: Distance Learning
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
Instructor homepage

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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   seemed to lose track at times in assigning homeworks and making sure there was a submission page on the COL site. also assigned a homework during exam week, but forgot to post it until after the exam so it was a bit of a time crunch, although the assignment was scaled back.
2.   Dr.Riely really understood the material and gave insightful comments about the progression of programming languages that augment the objectives of the week.
3.   Very clearly communicates, answers the course list very well, teaches well, gives homework that is just about right, very upbeat, joyful and positive. Kind of loses track of posting homeworks, homework solutions, didn't go over the midterm in class.
4.   very aticulate and does well in explaning the material.
5.   The professor seemed to be in his own world half the time. He seemed to really care less about the interests of his students, and does not make any effort to put a spin on the subject in such a way that would interest and engage students through the study of an area that interests them (as it applies to programming languages. I felt the professor is a very intelligent man, he is just unaware of how to relate the material to the student.
6.   Strengths: very good material presentation, clear explanationWeakness: first half of the course instructor was behind on answering emails (took him 2-3 days, sometimes longer), homework was posted late on sevearl ocasions, some lectures were not "DL-friendly" - ex. using pen on the board that didn't show up on whiteboard, pointing with the hand on the screen where DL students couldn't see ... That improved in the second half of the class.Also, a lot of times the hardest/new material was covered at the very end of the lecture when everyone is tired.Overall though, very good instructor, just little "organization" things that need improvement
7.   Dr. Riely is an erudite professor in his field, possessing an eclectic knowledge of theory and application. Very enjoyable course.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   all of it was beneficial, things were tied together nicely and the homeworks were a good match for in class discussion and coverage.
2.   Automata theory was great.
3.   ML is something I've never done before.
4.   broadening my knowledge of other programing languages
5.   Activation records. This gave me an understanding of what actually goes on behind the scenes when I write a program. This was very interesting to me. The two weeks of true functional programming was fun, however I did not enjoy the attempt to program functionally in Java.
7.   This course is extremely applicable to a broad range of disciplines in the computational field, and lays an excellent foundation for building many technical skills.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   its pretty good as it is
2.   One factor that did make this course more challenging was COL player not working for one reason or another. As well as Dr.Riely using whiteboard markers that did not work correctly for COL recording Though he did correct this by checking more often). The technical support for COL was very poor, one example is the long response time with very little detail in troubleshooting through emails. I would suggest a better support system for COL.
4.   not much because i do think he did a good job
5.   Jump into functional programming more quickly. It took too long to really get into the topics of the course that I was interested in. I was really hoping for more out of this course.
7.   Only in regard to graded materials (see below)

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   they were good.
2.   no
3.   One of the midterm questions had 5 parts, but the parts were weighted differently because some of them had a second part to them and others didn't. So if you missed the first question, you were for sure to miss the second. Therefore weighting it more heavily if you missed it, and not giving any free points.
4.   good but more can be done to assignments if graded by a course grader
5.   Hardly any constructive comments regarding the solutions I proposed that were marked as wrong were provided. It also took longer then normal to actually get the assignments back to us. I also felt the grading of both the homeworks and the exams were rather harsh, and gave little effort to crediting the student for partial work. If the program didn't return correct output, I would get a grade of 25% and a note that says "invalid output". Did the grader even look at the code?
7.   Cannot comment on grading of exams and homework since graded materials were never received. As a student, this made self-improvement on course material more difficult. Comments on homeworks from the grader were sometimes posted via the new COL interface, however, technical limitations in the formatting and display of comments limited their usefulness in regard to the original work, and somewhat lacked the organic feel of having the original graded material. Also, any comments on the impartiality of grading cannot be made due to the limitations mentioned above.

Other comments?

2.   no
5.   I am very disappointed in the outcome of this class as I expected much more out of a masters level programming languages course. Much of the topics were covered on the same level in my undergrad course on programming languages. Quite honestly, when my grade suffers, that usually illustrates that I am getting bored with the material (thus exerting less effort into the assignments). I was hoping that functional languages and functional programming would be covered on a deeper level. I was considering taking semantics of programming languages, but I do not think I enjoy the teaching style of the professor. If a different professor was teaching the course, I would consider taking it.