Evaluation Comments
Course:Data Structures in Java II

Quarter:Spring 12/13
Time: TuTh 11:50 - 13:20
Location: Loop Campus
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
Instructor homepage

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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   The professor is very knowledgeable about the subject, so that makes learning it much easier, because the professor is able to use real world examples the relate to many students.
2.   Professor Riely is clearly very knowledgeable and is able to answer any questions that pertained to the subject. I think this course would have been alot better if Professor Riely spent the time to learn our names especially considering this was a two-parter (even if he says he is bad with names) instead of just pointing to someone and saying 'YOU'.
3.   The professor was really willing to put in time to help students when needed. He seemed very knowledgeable about the subject, which ended up being sort of good and sort of bad. It was good because he was able to answer every question, but it was bad because it seemed like he didn't completely understand what it was like to be in a position where one does not grasp programming like he does.
4.   Amount of information was impressive.Homework were hard to solve
5.   Clearly knowledgeable about the content, presented material well and in an understandable fashion.Perhaps spent more time than necessary reviewing a few areas.
6.   Strength = shows why we should be learning this stuffWeakness = repeats stuff over and over (if you ask him a question, he'll repeat the answer 3 different ways even when the first was sufficient).
7.   Seemed to assume students knew things that I could tell most students did not. Also took forever to grade homework so we got no feedback on it. I did however, learn a lot by going to class. He is knowledgeable about the subject, and presents it well. He got better about assuming students knew things near the end of the quarter.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   The homework assignments, because they are what really made most of the material make sense in the long run.
2.   I think the textbook we used is the best textbook i have ever had the pleasure of using.
3.   The classes themselves were educational, and I feel like I have grown from them.
4.   How to make code run faster
5.   Writing the data structures and algorithms from scratch probably gives the best understanding of their workings and their applications.
6.   Learning the stuff.
7.   Learning how to use eclipse and the debugger, learning how to use data structures and how to implement them.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   To improve this course I'd suggest making the reading matter in some way, whether it be online quiz or in class quiz. Or possibly make the homework be like a quiz, where the student has to provide answers to questions with code snippets.
2.   i think it would be nice to have a couple classes in the lab and follow along with the class material.
3.   This class was taught at a level that is not appropriate for students without a lot of background experience. The students that have been programming for years all understood the assignments and the exams, but the students that have only been programming for one or two years seemed to really struggle with the class.The teacher once jokingly referred to a group of kids as "slackers," but these were the kids that did not have a long history of coding. In fact, most of these students I knew put in more time than the "non-slacker" students for the class, they just didn't have the background that the other students did. This class needs to be taken down a few notches or at least become more accessible to students without years of experience under their belt. Instead of increasing my appreciation for the subject, this class has actually caused me to completely question whether computer science is something I want to go into because I have struggled that much in this class.
4.   Let students do a presentation
5.   More coding.
6.   More fun.
7.   A prerequisite of non-java related computer skills. (Command Prompt use, program structure, learning how to run programs on a computer, etc.)

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   I think the grading procedure for exams was fine, I felt that the lack of feedback on the homework assignment however, wasn't very helpful. I was looking for feedback on the homework to see where I stood with my understanding.
2.   We didnt get any kind of feed back on our homework assignments. Tests where graded fairly.
3.   Almost none of the assignments have actually been graded with feedback, which makes the class trickier.Complicating the matter is that the professor has opted this quarter for short-answer exams instead of multiple choice like in the past. This first became a problem when the professor told the class only a few days before the midterm that the exams would be different than the exams we had taken in the class prior to this, giving us less time to study. Additionally, because we received no feedback, I had no idea if what I was doing was right. If the professor is going to give the students short-answer problems, then he should give feedback on the homework so that students know what to improve.
4.   Very good
5.   Grading was fair. Although some partial credit would be nice, on an exam as short as these, one misunderstanding can be pretty damning. While the grading curve certainly mitigates this, being on the right track but with a fatal error shouldn't be equally weighted with a blank answer. Arguably, in a real life application, a quick attempt at compilation would have given someone a chance to fix even entire conceptual errors.
6.   We did not have a grader for our programming assignments.
7.   Still has not graded any homework.

Other comments?

3.   Often I would attend class and completely understand the material. Then I would get home and not understand the homework at all. I think that there should be more overlap between the class and the homework.
5.   Nope. Great class.
7.   Good, not great teacher. Felt like I had too much homework some weeks and not enough to understand the material other weeks.