Evaluation Comments
Course:Data Structures and Algorithms in Java

Quarter:Winter 11/12
Time: ::: - :::
Location: Distance Learning
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   The instructor was very knowledgeable. I think some things the instructor did poorly were rely on the book for assignments. This caused confusion and many questions over email communication that resulted in clarifications to the problems 3-4 days after it was assigned. For someone who had either already submitted this or was already done and didn't have the time for the rework, this was challenging and frustrating. This happened almost every week. Another example was the problem was assigned and the professor didn't realize the challenge of the problem, sent out solution "suggestions" that didn't work so the homework had to be extended to the following week. This type of preparedness certainly can be improved on.
2.   Prof. Riely is a subject matter expert and leader in the computer science discipline.
3.   He too a lot of time to answer questions and help students, but the lectures were pretty much just going over the book's prepared slides.
4.   Professor Reily is very knowledable and dedicated to a student's learning. His response both in time and quality of response to inquiries was exceptional. I also enjoyed his candor and personality with lectures. However with teaching this course for the first time in 10 years, coupled with a new textbook, there were a few mistakes with assignments, lecture revisions, etc. that are likely common with early taught courses. Additionally, there was little instruction regarding study prep for the mid term and so far (last week in class) there has been little provided for the final other than mention of a comprehensive exam. With all the material covered in this course, it would be helpful to review key information and or provide study references to help prepare students for exams. Especially because of the heavy impact of exam score on the final grade.
5.   Professor Riely is very knowledgeable bout all computer science subjects. I enjoyed his desire to make the students think while they learn, rather than just memorize. The fact that we were encouraged to experiment was really great. My only problem was that on homeworks because I have to work I didn't always have a lot of time to finish all the homework to the point I would have liked.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   The course was challenging and made me learn a lot.
2.   Distance learning.
4.   While the course work was quite heavy at times, the logical progression of exercises that built upon prior concepts and algorithms was helpful with understanding and subject retention.
5.   The homeworks, while tough were very helpful to my overall learning. I learn best through doing so that was a big help to me.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   For a distance / on-line learner, I think there needs to be more ease of access. For example, this course was Thurs nights. But the time I could access the lecture and watch it on Fri (after work) I would lose that as a day. Then I would do the homework on the weekends (that was assigned during the lecture) but if I had a question, there was not a lot of ability to communicate. I would lose time just by waiting for lectures to be posted and replies to questions, things others already had access to. I would like to see changes made to help cater to distance learners a little in that manner.
2.   As an online student, I feel that this course should be split into two days.
4.   take lessons learned from this course such as what worked, common areas of understanding and those areas where students struggled. With this information, consider altering assignments, lecture, etc. to improve course.
5.   I don't really know how to change the course to keep it as effective. I guess my only problems were with working and taking another course at the same time. So I would keep a lot of the curriculum the same.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   I thought it took a long time to get grades on homework assignments and the comments were not even a full sentence. I thought the midterm was not what was expected based on what stated in the lecture before the exam was given.
2.   Fair and straightforward. He really wants me to learn the material through experience and practice.
4.   Not sure about the final as it hasn't been taken, but because I personnally didn't finish the mid term which was both a suprise and concern with 100% homework scoring. This was partially due to the complexity of problems on the mid term, time allotted, test environment (my problem) along with one question that depended on a student's notes for a specific item which was flawed. As an item of consideration for future test formatting, I wonder if tests could be developed that don't require notes, instead relying on student proficiency with subject matter?
5.   I don't really have any comments in this section. I believe Professor Riely grades are fair and do show that he cares about his students.

Other comments?

2.   Prof. Riely enjoys teaching this course. While I struggled with issues at home, I called Prof. Riely to inquire about my status in the class. I had all but given up; however, he was very understanding and encouraged me to continue working. I have learned much from this course, which will ultimately help me in future studies.
4.   Thanks to James for his efforts. I'm confident that he worked many extra hours in this course with personnally completing assignments well in advance of students to insure quality and consistency of material. Also as mentioned previously, his candor and response to online queries was exceptional.
5.   Professor Riely is a great professor who does care that his students learn the subject material. I think he deserves a good mark for this course.