Evaluation Comments
Course:Data Structures I

Quarter:Spring 15/16
Time: ::: - :::
Location: Distance Learning
James Riely PhD

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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   good all around professor, conveys material well and is very organized. Because assignments were many times graded by test files and graded primarily by their output, feed back on exactly what went wrong with our work was a little lacking.
2.   At the beginning of the quarter I think there was a little too much time spent on previous quizzes and homework assignments, but that changed to about the right amount of time as the quarter moved along.
3.   strengths: dynamic and engaging. his ability to go into detail on difficult topics was the best part about the course. weaknesses: he didn't prepare us well enough on the Java skills necessary for the course (i.e. homework assignments). homeworks, especially after the mid-term, rarely lined up very well with what we learned in lectures. given that many homework assignments covered topics we had never talked about in class, the professor spent surprisingly little time going through them in advance (for some only a couple minutes in a rushed manner at the end of a lecture). his office hours were horrible...only 1.5 hours a week, right before class is really a bad time, especially given the number of students who work full-time.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   coding
3.   professor going into detail on difficult topics was the best part about the course.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   my preferable learning method has always been learning syntax and how to do stuff in class with example code, then for assignments concentrating on how to implement the code and use it to solve a larger problem. This contrasts to the teaching method utilized in this class of teaching concepts in class and using homework assignments for us to teach ourselves how to code it.for example, I thought his overview on types of recursion was very sufficient. lots of examples with slides for us to refer back to.
3.   It is a disservice to new students (especially the ones who have no computer science experience before this masters program) to not offer a Java bootcamp seminar for students with no experience in this language, that they can take before starting this course. other universities offer 1-2 day bootcamps like this (UofC offers the Unix bootcamp for example) and there is no good reason that DePaul does not. In this case, it should be a tightly-focused seminar that includes examples of EVERYTHING that will be needed in the homeworks that will be assigned for DS 1 (Interfaces, APIs, generics, etc.). for most of this course, time that could have been spent learning data structures was instead spent finding a tutor who could explain basic Java concepts to me that the professor never did...the union-find homework (percolation) was the most egregious example of a homework assignment where 90% of the work went into getting the JAVA right (with no tools or examples provided about how to use interfaces and APIs, etc.) and 10% into the actual DS concepts that were actually taught in class. The professor needs to offer more office hours, and maybe get a TA who can offer more office hours (30 minutes a day with the rotating tutoring staff is not enough).

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   very quick to get out grades, just sometimes wish for more feedback when things go wrong.
3.   please reconsider providing solutions to homeworks that students can copy and paste into Eclipse...reading them off your lecture is not as easy as you might think...the online tool makes it very hard to click back and forth and actually find the correct time to freeze the screen in order to type in code by hand...suggest you try this yourself to see how difficult it is to do (a real time waster ... time woudl be better spent reading code and learning the topics).

Other comments?

1.   good instructor, fun class.
3.   great professor