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

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Fri Feb 12 09:13:04 EST 2010

wooks wrote at 02/12/2010 08:42 AM:
> My students understand sufficiently what is shown in class but cannot
> translate that to the  writing a program (or even a template)
> unaided.  They also cannot cope with a task that is only a slight
> variation from what they have seen and understood in class - like for
> example write count list after being shown and understood how to write
> sum list.

It's easy for a student to nod at an explanation ("yeah, makes sense") 
while having only a superficial understanding.

Writing "count list" is hard, until you know how to write things like 
"count list" sufficiently well that it's trivial to you.

I know little of research in cognition, but I'm not aware of any 
limitations that prevent the *vast* majority of non-elderly people from 
learning how to write things like "count list".  (Edward James Olmos 
teaches Calculus to at-risk teens, after all. :)

I believe that learning to write things like "count list" takes at least 
three things: (1) background instruction; (2) non-innate problem-solving 
tools, of which I believe HtDP provides some; (3) experience, 
experience, experience.

If students are not putting in the hours to get experience, or they are 
getting much poorer-quality experience in those hours than is possible, 
then I'd say that -- not some inherent inability of the student -- is 
the barrier.


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