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

From: wooks (wookiz at hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Feb 12 06:25:00 EST 2010

On Feb 11, 12:54 pm, Matthias Felleisen <matth... at ccs.neu.edu> wrote:
> Wooks:

> > 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.

I am not trying to be an experimental scientist and I am not
interested in validating or conjecturing on Bornats test.

I am trying to get my students to pass.

> Your single instance of teaching HtDP does not contribute to the validation
> of the paper's test.

Per my reply to John C and Shiram I never believed it anyway, even if
I did I would never administer it and I am happy to see it can be
refuted specifically on its merits.

> 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.

I wish to connect my experience to the HTDP ethos that "everyone
should learn to program" and to any claim that goes beyond that to
suggest that "everyone can learn (or be taught) to program".

Bornats paper has proved to be mostly a  distraction (albeit I hope an
interesting one) for which I accept full responsibility. So let me
clarify  what I am interested in.

Insofar as there is a claim that everyone can be taught to program - a
single counterexample  is sufficient to refute  that. By all means
highlight the relative inexperience of the person claiming the
counterexample, it's a very relevant point. However I posit that
extrapolating results taken from teaching a biased sample of clients
who have been filtered through some form of academic selection
criteria, to the population at large, is the comparative log in the
eye in this situation.

I agree with Bornat on the existence of programming sheep and non-
programming goats. My limited experience is the best information I
have on this. If everybody else is or has been teaching classes that
have survived some form of academic filter then it may be the best
information available.

By all means it is relevant to highlight my inexperience or question
my abilities but I've posted enough on some of the specific
difficulties I've observed. The silence they have met with is as
resounding as the clamour to refute Bornat and his test has been

If anybody HTDPer (expert or not) is willing to share their experience
or offer suggestions to overcome the specific problems I have
mentioned and help these students to pass, I'm all ears.

PS With respect to count-members-in-list (see my reply to Carl)
students did not get it until I held up a number of pieces of chalk in
front of them and asked them what I should every time I see one if I
want to count them.

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