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Tips for Success


It is normal not to know things as programmers

  • The volunteers can't help you if we don't know you are lost
  • Someone else in the class probably has the same question as you, and is too scared to ask
  • If the teacher asks if everyone understands, SPEAK UP if you are not sure about something

The method is not the goal

The goal is NOT to complete the exercises. The goal is to learn.

  • Completion of all exercises is not success... if you do not truly understand.
  • If you learn so that you can complete any future exercises without help (e.g. in a job interview), that is success.

Stay in control of your learning

  • When getting help, stay in control (of the computer and the process)
  • Each exercise is an opportunity to learn - don't let anyone steal that from you by solving your problem. Completing the exercise without understanding is a waste of your time and ours.

In group-work, seek to understand everything If you've done something in group-work that you don't fully understand:

  • Slow things down
  • Get it explained
  • Go back to the work by yourself afterwards, and challenge yourself to understand it

Don't let it go

Don't let it go because the next time you don't understand something, it will be harder to get things explained.

So if you solve 10 exercises together in a group-work exercise, it is a great idea to go back over and try to solve them on your own the next day.

Take notes

Take notes about what you don't understand Think of it as making a map of your work for the week. At a minimum, take note of the exercise numbers that you have problems with, even if you solve them eventually. Then you should revisit them some time afterwards and complete them again from scratch until you're positive you understand.

Use technical learning strategies

Try prediction, to get all the juice out of each exercise.

With simple programming challenges, it is easy to just repeatedly modify and re-run your program until it works, but you won't learn much unless you are thinking (and this playful approach doesn't work with more complicated problems), so instead...

Always try to predict what your code will do before you run it. Write your prediction down, or tell your colleague - you can make it a game. After you run the program, if your guess was wrong, discuss why, then FIND OUT why.

Recognise learning strategies

  • Don't be frustrated when a volunteer does not solve your problem for you
  • The instructors have told them not to! Can you say why?

If a volunteer is telling you the solutions, stop them politely and ask to make a prediction instead. Don't let anyone steal the opportunity of learning from you.

Remember your goal

The goal is not to complete the exercise. The goal is to learn.