Evaluation Comments
Course:Data Structures in Java II

Quarter:Winter 13/14
Time: MW 15:10 - 16:40
Location: Loop Campus
James Riely PhD

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

1.   Extremely bright, knows the material. However, he moves way too quickly and the tests require comprehensive understanding that goes beyond the applications in the course.
2.   Strengths was that he clearly knew his stuff. Could explain material very well and you knew he was an expert who could give you valuable information to be used later for career development.Weaknesses - Sometimes homework assignments were a little tough to complete do to the wild west nature of what we were to do. There was little guidance and instruction in the direction we should take our programming assignments. Whether or not this was do to the instructors faith in the students I'm not sure. But it could have been a bit more beneficial to know the full extent of what is required in a assignment, such as methods, certain exception detection, and/or what a method should do.
3.   Dr. Riely really knows the material. With that, he sometimes seems to assume the students know more than they do, or that things aren't explained well because they seem easy to him. I also thought we spent too much time on trees. This is obvious because we are now behind. Same thing happened last quarter with Tomuro. This class should be split over three quarters or something.
4.   Seemed like he was teaching the course for the first time or a least this was the first time he implemented a lot of new changes without having all the kinks worked out. Assignments were continually updated after I had put in the effort to finish them early so I had to go back and check and occasionally fix things that he was not specific on / changed before the due date. That was very stressful as it made it difficult to get ahead or even stay on track. The professor does bring an enjoyable air to the class where I enjoy learning from him and I enjoy going to class but at the same time I felt the class was more unorganized compared to last quarter.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   Assignments, passing
2.   Tests mostly, that was the area I needed to improve upon the most, and seemed to give me a bigger grasp on what I actually knew compared to what I thought I knew.
3.   The book is excellent and the hw assignments were great.
4.   Learning data structures and how they are used in the real world.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   After introducing symbol tables, the course should spend the majority of time writing algorithms over trees and graphs
2.   Move some material to the first part of the course, that way to better prepare those for section two.
3.   Split it over three quarters. In general, if I didn't have to take so many useless electives (religious dimensions, ethics in tech, history courses), I could take more courses that will benefit my career. There are several courses that I would have liked to have been over another quarter.
4.   Be more accepting of student interpretations of assignments. Clarify if necessary but don't punish those that did the assignments early and on time because you made a mistake. It was very stressful going back over homework I thought I had finished to make sure that it fit with all the new additions or clarifications. Providing tests for us would probably solve most of these problems because we can run the tests and know if we are right or wrong. Also having an easier way to use graphviz on Windows would be extremely helpful during the graph sections of the course.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   Extremely slow on homeworks. Still don't have a grade for my first assignment in this class.
2.   Grading was slow at part. This was probably is in fault to the grader.
3.   The midterm was a little too difficult I thought. More insight into what to prepare for would have been good. When studying, I didn't know what to study. The book material I had mastered. I ended up with a grade in the seventies, as did most of the class. I just felt very surprised by the midterm.
4.   Felt exam grading was more then fair based on our performance. The exams are very difficult more so than other CSC courses makes it hard to know how one actually did. Grading for homework occasionally seemed unfair, best example is on the KDtree. We were graded using different tests than we were given to test our solutions with. So I got a better grade with the tests we were given but lost points because different tests were used to grade the original kdtree. I think that the tests we were given should be what the first kdtree grade should be based off of.

Other comments?

2.   I like this class, it was more difficult then others, but I know that if I can pass this class then I can put my head down, focus, and pass any class.