Today the students of the Java Design Patterns class are writing the final examination. Yesterday I found a one page summary of all the patterns covered in the class and I emailed it to them. I know it was a bit late to send the summary sheet but I felt it could come in handy. This morning, I sent text messages to the students in both classes wishing them all the best in the exam. After having prepared and delivered this course for the first time, I have found areas where it can be improved. I can only hope the work I did was enough to ensure that the students understood the concepts well enough to pass the exam. Two students from one class dropped the course and it’s my assumption that the course material may have been too programming intensive for them. Some students found 15 design patterns to be quite a lot to cover in one semester and it is something I will take into consideration when delivering the course next year. A mock examination as well as some online multiple choice questions were created to assist the students with exam preparation. Even though 2 students out of both classes completed the online questions, I hope the mock examination was enough to help them prepare. I included 80% of the topics from the final examination in the mock examination, changing question structure where needed. I provided as much assistance as possible to the students with their examination preparation as no past papers were available. As I write this blog post, the students are writing the exam, which should end in about 80 minutes. I’m quite excited to see how they performed in the exam as this would not only reflect how well they grasped the topics but how well I presented the information to them.
Yesterday I wrapped up the topic of Threads in Java covering thread basics, the 2 ways to create a thread, the activities of the thread’s life cycle, writing multithreaded programs, sharing access to data, synchronisation and the use of monitors and semaphores. I was not comfortable with the response from the class while lecturing the topic, so for tomorrow’s class, I’ll postpone the Quiz to next week Tuesday and do a repeat of the Threads concepts with some more examples and exercises. At this point, I do not feel comfortable about the way the topic was received by the students. It is extremely important to me to ensure that the students understand the concepts before I move on. We have 10 more sessions scheduled, 7 regular sessions and 3 make-up classes. One of those sessions will be used for the reviewing threads, another session for 2 quizzes and the other 8 sessions for file access and exam preparation. I also found a really great handout from IBM that I’ll be using to guide the class tomorrow which I believe flows through the concept quite well, so that should be helpful.
Yesterday’s C++ class was so exciting. Firstly I decided to structure the exam from last week a bit differently and give the students the opportunity to have a retake. The initial quiz was mainly free text and I don’t think that worked very well. After the exam, the students finally had the opportunity to create their first HelloWorld program using C++. Last minute I decided to change the way I would start them coding. I wanted to explain more about the types of editors, the compiler, linking and how a program goes from words in an editor to a working application. However, I realised it would probably be better for them to start a simple program and when the concepts are explained, have something to refer those concepts to. I must admit, for a group of electrical engineers in training, they were quite excited about building applications. I focused mainly on input (cin) and output (cout) and two data types, string and int. A few of the students even improvised and extended on the practical work done in the class session, which I was very happy to see. The class finished around 8:35PM last night as the energy was so good in the room. If it wasn’t for my 4:00AM wake up time this morning and the campus security patiently waiting outside the classroom door to close the room, I would have probably carried the class until 9:00PM. I’m excited for next week’s class and I hope the students are as well.
This week is mid-terms at the University and I would be testing my Java and C++ classes. I’m excited to see how these students perform in the examinations as this is not only a test of how well they understand the work but also a test of how well I perform as an instructor. I try to teach in such a way that I incorporate a little of the three main learning styles. For those auditory learners, I explain the concepts in class usually following from a powerpoint presentation, for the visual learners I will use examples on the board as well as in the handouts and for the kinesthetic leaners I will give exercises in class as well as practice exercises at home. I also refer the students to videos on Youtube and Udemy so they can look at the concepts before class and review them after class to reinforce what was learnt. I hope my approach works and they are understanding what is being taught. I guess by next week I’ll know if my approach is working and where I may need to make improvements.