Evaluation Comments
Course:Concepts of Programming Languages

Quarter:Spring 16/17
Time: ::: - :::
Location: Distance Learning
James Riely PhD

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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   Great humor, and reasonable person. Does not care about students who are sturggling and does not answer student questions with appropriate backgrond(basics). Goes into advance detail without basic explanation.
2.   Too random, without necessary focus on the topic
3.   Very clear communication?, very knowledgeable about the material, willing to be vulnerable and do live coding demos with the class. I honestly cannot think of any weaknesses.
4.   The instructor is an extremely nice guy, but his multiple choice tests are not subject-appropriate (language concepts in general) and unfortunately he does not really prepare you for them. Based on the number of times he has to look up the proper syntax for whatever example he is performing in class, I would be surprised if he was able to pass his own tests. Not holding that against him because needing to look up specific syntax is normal, but that's the whole point. Overall the instructor is obviously extremely knowledgeable, but doesn't want to take the time to grade tests so we get stuck with language-specific-syntax multiple choice tests because they're easier/faster to grade. Even though professor Riely is very knowledgeable and nice, I still feel the tests need serious revision.
5.   The lectures weren't really helpful - I feel as though I could have skipped watching them entirely and been equally successful in the class. Homework assignments and worksheets were pretty good.
6.   He has a deep understanding of many different languages and was able to talk about their differences.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   The quizes were helpful but worksheet and homework were not
2.   self-study and homework/worksheet
3.   Learning the underling concepts behind all programming? languages?. I have a new found confidence in my ability to quickly learn a new programming language.
4.   The slides and worksheets were very well put together. Also, the homework was actually fun to complete, which is rare.
5.   Homework assignments helped with learning.
6.   I have to say the worksheets. Although even those did not prepare me well for the homework coding assignments.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   The grading structure is unfair and the way homeworks are graded is unfair. You need to grade these questions on a individual bases rather than just having a complier do a auto grade. Most people are good at programming but take time to learn the language which causes struggles (complier error) on the homework. It should never be 0 points for complier error if the student put fort alot of effort to understand the languge and homework. Also you need to give better prepration material for the exam. Half of your class fails the midterm right of the bat which is unseen. This is because you offer no practice exam for midterm or final. Professor Corin atleast offered practice exams which were similar to his exams.
2.   Please review the things you gonna teach in class, pick several focus and plan your time carefully.
3.   It is hard for me to think of any suggestions, I wish we could have had additional lectures to explore the material even deeper.
4.   I would suggest making the midterm and final exams subject related instead of just multiple choice tests purely on syntactical knowledge. If I was an expert on Scala I could get an A on the exam even if I didn't attend a single lecture, which feels wrong. I learned a lot about Scala but not so much about programming languages in general. However, the course is not named the principles of Scala, so I guess I was expecting more emphasis on language concepts in general.
5.   Closer attention should be paid to schedule of topics - some topics appeared on quizzes/midterm before they were covered in lecture/worksheets/assignments. It was pretty frustrating to encounter a new topic while taking a midterm or quiz and have to attempt to answer the questions without having learned the material yet. A little more attention to the materials/schedule could have avoided this issue entirely. Otherwise, the lectures weren't particularly helpful for me but may have been good for others with a different learning style.
6.   The exams are too hard. Midterm was weighted far too heavily on Scala. It that is the case, then Scala should be introduced to students in this program earlier on. Perhaps intro to computing should include Python AND Scala. Scala's pattern matching and recursion functions need to be explained better. Perhaps at a slower pace. This was the downfall of the course for me personally. Also, I think we needed more homework problems. Perhaps not for a grade. But more like practice problems of varying difficulty to prepare students for the exam.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   Change the auto grading structure on the homework.
2.   Fair
3.   Fair, well documented.
4.   Midterm and Final are multiple choice tests are not subject-appropriate (language concepts in general) and I personally feel that professor Riely did not prepare us for the exam (not intentionally). It is apparent that we have this test format because they're easier/faster to grade. As I previously stated, if I was an expert on Scala I could get an A on the exam even if I didn't attend a single lecture.
5.   Overall, mostly fair. See previous comment regarding schedule misalignment between topics and quizzes/exams.

Other comments?

2.   No
3.   This class was very challenging but the BEST class I have taken so far in my graduate program. The class and learning objectives were well defined. The material was presented clearly and was well organized. The lectures were very engaging. I loved how he worked through coding examples live in class. It was also very helpful when he drew out coding concepts on the white board. He took very complex material and made it easy for me to grasp. Professor Riely is amazing! I feel grateful to have had this opportunity to learn from him. Thank you!
6.   I understand why this course is taught. I understand that these concepts are not easy to test as student on. But I think the midterm was something that you couldn't prepare for very well.