[plt-scheme] Last year students...

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 21 09:25:42 EDT 2006

1. At NU, we have a small group of undergraduate students who get 
together and ... program. Actually, they typically do everything on a 
project, which they sometimes and eventually hand over to our sys admin 

2. The vast majority, however, doesn't program unless told to do so. I 
have noticed this trend for years now but I have no explanation, only 
speculation. -- There are occasional exceptions, people who do fall 
neither into the first category nor the second one.

3. We have one extra factor: Students must go out on three co-ops (I 
believe they are six-months co-ops) and their supervisors report back 
to our college. This helps but doesn't overcome the 1-2 classification.

4. In my pre-SE course (we call it Software Construction, and Robby and 
I are developing this course jointly), I see a huge gap between those 
groups. I am failing about 1/3 of the students (that counts both W and 
F but not early withdrawals) simply because they can't program anything 
substantial and I won't have my name on their transcript blessing them 
otherwise. My dean backs me up so it's okay.

5. Of my six PhD students, two got hooked on Scheme and programming in 
my Rice courses (Richard, Ryan), went away for a significant time and 
joined when I moved. One is a Kathi Fisler student; one is Robby 
student. The remaining two are 'random choices' :-) And yes, every PhD 
project involves quite some programming around here.

In Matthew's group, two people got inspired by my HtDP/EoPL courses, 
way back. There are Dybvig students, and some more random choices. 
Robby has one PhD student, he got HtDPed, also way back.

Having said that, I have apps every year of 5 students or so who would 
be capable of working with me because they have programmed and know 
enough background material. Fortunately I have Shriram close by who is 
young and has unbounded energy and can absorb them :-)

-- Matthias

On Apr 21, 2006, at 8:00 AM, Paulo J. Matos wrote:

> Hi all,
> This semester I'm teaching Data Mining and Data Warehousing techniques
> to last year students in Software and Computer Engineering (which has
> nothing to do with Scheme). So I asked in all my classes the exact
> same thing:
> "Who has programmed in Scheme since it's first year subject
> Programming Fundamentals?"
> Nobody!
> "Well, ok, so in what do you usually program in your free-time? Maybe
> Java, C++?"
> Nothing...
> "Nothing? I asked astonished? So you're have never been interested in
> participating in an open source project or develop some personal
> project on your own apart from college software projects?"
> Nope... Their answer was No!
> Well, I was a bit shocked... not really due to the fact that they have
> not programmed in Scheme except as a first programming language but
> that software engineering students were not involved in
> extra-curricular projects outside college and they were not even
> interested to get involved.
> I'm quite curious to know some information from other colleges, are
> the majority of your students like this? If not, why do you think this
> is so? Has your  college enforced any rule to make them participate in
> extra-curricular software development? I think any commentary is
> welcome...
> Above all, it seems to be that Flatt's, Shriram's, Findler's, etc...
> have some post graduate student working with them in PLT Scheme... How
> come you found those? Are those a minority willing to work with
> Scheme? Before they started to work with you, did they use Scheme at
> all?
> Cheers,
> --
> Paulo Jorge Matos - pocm at sat inesc-id pt
> Web: http://sat.inesc-id.pt/~pocm
> Computer and Software Engineering
> INESC-ID - SAT Group
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