Web Resources for Peterson's Mapping in the Cloud

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a programming background to understand this material?

My students have come from all different backgrounds. Some have no programming background, some have had a programming course, and some have had two.  I never really know, and it sometimes never becomes clear to me during the semester who has programming background.  Some students do better than others but I don’t think it is necessarily related to their programming experience.  I think it’s more a reflection of the amount of effort they put into the assignments.

The student web pages fosters a certain camaraderie among the students.  I put a strong emphasis on students helping each other.  Perhaps the students that have the most programming are helping other students more but I’m not certain of that either.  The students that do the best seem to be the ones that stay in the lab and get the work done.  They are also the ones that generally help others the most.

The course is most difficult for those students who just go home and try to complete the assignments by themselves.  That takes them out of the group and they invariably fall behind. To keep everyone on pace, I give 3 points to finish early, 2 points to finish on time (within one week).  My ‘ontime’ grade category is 10% of the grade.  This is the only way that I’ve been able to keep students from falling behind.  Catching-up is almost impossible.

But, yes, I think a programming course is probably helpful – at least one that gets them through variables, loops, control structures, and objects.  Basically, it will provide a conceptual background to understand JavaScript and PHP coding.


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