[plt-scheme] Re: HTDP - evidently not for everyone.

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Thu Feb 11 07:54:41 EST 2010


>> From the Abstract
> "We have found a test for programming aptitude, of which we give
> details. We can predict success or failure even before students have
> had any contact with any programming language with very high accuracy,
> and by testing with the same instrument after a few weeks of exposure,
> with extreme accuracy. We present experimental evidence to support our
> claim. We point out that programming teaching is useless for those who
> are bound to fail and pointless for those who are certain to succeed.
> The Papers Conclusion
> There is a test for programming aptitude, or at least for success in a
> first programming course. We have speculated on the reasons for its
> success, but in truth we don’t understand how it works any
> more than you do. An enormous space of new problems has opened up
> before us all.
> They claim an ability to predict pass/fail for an introductory
> programming course. That is way short of  claiming to have created a
> reliable calibration mechanism, which seems to be the criteria in your
> assessment.

The fallacy of this argument is obvious. It's a small test. It uses
only one notion of programming. It uses only one notion of teaching 
programming. If you want to be a experimental scientist, conduct the 
same test to your next class and then have a well-trained HtDPer teach 
the best HtDP you can teach. My claim is that the conjecture will fail. 

;; --- 

Your single instance of teaching HtDP does not contribute to the validation
of the paper's test. If you really wish to generalize connect your 
experience with the paper's content, you will need to proceed on a much
more systematic manner. 

;; --- 

Q: Would it be interesting to conduct such a study? Yes. 

-- Matthias

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