Evaluation Comments
Course:Concepts of Programming Languages

Quarter:Winter 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.   Obviously very bright and knowledgeable on the subject. He has a great excitement for the material which is inspiring. A joy to learn from.
3.   The only reason why some of the instructor's marks were a lower was that there were multiple times when the instructor would spend significant class time (15+ minutes) explaining something only to have to go over it again after break. This is not wholly bad though, because I felt GREAT that the professor could realize something was off and generally it wasn't an issue if I felt comfortable with the topic. The only time it bothered me was when I didn't fully understand a topic and he had to backtrack significantly.
4.   Knowledge of material.Sloppy lecturer.
5.   clear, concisemistakes in one or two of the homework assignments
6.   Good knowledge of subject.
7.   I really really liked the enthusiasm about the subject!!
8.   Strength: Obvious interest and enthusiasm for the subjectWeakness: Refusal to use COL message board. It is a nice forum for DL students... you get stranded and feel alone... nobody to talk to about the material. The email list is okay... but I like the message board better.
9.   Strength: Strong knowledge of the subject material, friendly, personable, good communicator.Weakness: Sometimes makes the assumption that students have a higher level of familiarity with the subject material than they really do, and sometimes moves faster through certain areas than is desirable.
11.   Great understanding of programming languagesOrganized and thought out lectures
12.   He knew his subject. Someties he was unorginized but he made up for it quickly.
13.   I've never had an instructor that thought it was ok to have his cell phone ring repeatedly during class. That is rude and unprofessional, and I'M THE ONE PAYING FOR THE CLASS. I think I pay enough to not have to listen to his cell phone. He was dismissive to students questsions during class, very unorganized and had a very awkward presentation. Over all, I've had excellent faculty at DePaul, but this was by far the worst instructor that I have encountered. I'm assuming he is tenured.
14.   Dr. Riely's greatest strength is his sense of humor. The subject matter is rather dry and his enthusiasm and humor make it palatable. I can't really determine a major weakness.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   The lectures were very informative.
2.   I really enjoy the link between conceptual design of programming languages all the way down to the compiler and hardware interaction.
3.   The book was WONDERFUL (although a little wordy). Lectures were adequate, but I am sure that my opinion is due to seeing/hearing via the internet. Assignments were the best part. I truely never recieved bad grades on homework that I thought I understood or vica versa, which reinforced my knowledge/helped me to really understand that which I didn't understand.
4.   Helped me be a better programmer.
5.   argument passing, static and dynamic links
6.   Broader knowledge of Programming languages.
7.   Comparisons and contrasts of the various different languages.
8.   Comparing various programming language paradigms. Practicing similar functions in different languages.
9.   Grammars
12.   All aspects basically.
14.   The most beneficial aspect to me was to broadened understanding of programming languages and how they work.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   The homework was a bit much. Either scale back the workload of each individual assignment, or have fewer assignments overall.
3.   A BIG help would be if the instructor told us up front what the focuses of reading would be, especially in chapters of this book that are long. I am not normally a student who wants to know "what's going to be on the test" but there have been times where over 100 pages of reading would be assigned and only 40 pages would have been relevant. Due to the condensed (quarterly) nature of the class, this would be very helpful.Also, while the instructor did an good job of sculpting this course to be ideal for both in class and DL students, I feel that this can be a departmental weakness and would like to see continued improvement.
4.   The instructor should be more careful about errors in the lecture notes and the bungled presentation of certain topics.
6.   Class on-line presentations should have both example questions AND answers provided. DL students need this. Whiteboard writing should be larger, it does not show well for DL students.HW assignment examples should be checked to make sure they are error free. As a working professional, my limited time allows me to do one course a semester, it is hard when the examples do not compile and/or incorrect.
7.   Maybe choose a different book.
8.   Don't use the light green pen. Introduce the lecture with a brief review of the homework to emphasize the key point each question was looking for/why it was important (what key topic it solidifies for us).
9.   I have no suggestions.
12.   A bit more up to dateness on the notes presented in class
13.   Why did I get cleared (during my PPA) for the Undergrad version of this class, and then have to take the graduate version. It would make sense IF THEY WEEREN"T THE SAME CLASS, TAUGHT BY THE SAME INSTRUCTOR WITH THE SAME REQUIREMENTS, HOMEWORK, ETC.... I was cleared and then not cleared for it....
14.   I would explain at the beginning why the course is structured the way it is. Going from automata to parsers to ML feels like the course is designed to be an entry-level course of theory that gives students a glimpse of the several different aspects of CS they can pursue as opposed to a "course", as it were.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   It all seems very fair. In general I don't agree with "you have to pass the midterm and final to pass the class" type policies. Too much pressure on one test. The overall average should dictate a pass/fail.
2.   The initial grading of homeworks by the TA was incredibly slow. This was resolved with the hiring of a new TA.
3.   Grading speed has improved greatly throughout the quarter, but comments by the course grader are sometimes cryptic and nonspecific. This is not the instructor's fault, just something that needs to be fixed system-wide.
4.   Fair.
5.   too early to tell
6.   Should be open book exam, although the book does not help much.
7.   Very understandable and fair.
8.   I liked having my exam mailed back to me because I finally saw how something was graded. There is a place on the DL "grades" portion for comments. It would be nice to have some indication of where we went wrong. Not all questions had answers posted on the web...
9.   I have no comments.
11.   Homework grading was slow
12.   Was very fair and impartial
14.   Fair and impartial based on what I know.

Other comments?

1.   Great instructor. I look forward to taking future classes with him.
3.   Professor Riely seems to have a true love/interest in both the subject and conveying the subject. While some of the marks above may not have been ideal, I have to believe that a majority of the cause is the undesirable aspect of viewing lectures strictly through the internet. I think that I would truely enjoy interacting with him in person and regret the fact that I will not have that opprotunity.
7.   -
8.   Point values on homework assignments when we get them would be handy...Invite off-topic guy to discussion after class. I feel like I'm being held back every time he speaks.
9.   The only other comment that I have is to ask for recognition that students have a life and career outside of this class and to ask for homework assignments that don't require investing several days of effort to accomplish.
10.   Disappointed with DL effectiveness. Encountered numerous techical problems with the lectures online.
12.   Over all I liked the Instructor, he brought a nice sense of humor to an otherwise mundane course, I have had other instructors teach a course like this for under graduate studies and it can get boring very quickly, but he lightened up the material and explained it with a nice humorous style that was effective.