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week 1 grading

January 28, 2012
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Great work from everyone this week and the best first week showing from any of my previous classes (overall scores, working links to assignments and timeliness of submission). This is the first group ever to have each student turn in the first week assignment on time.

A note on seeking help: I work full time for SJSU and usually do 12 – 15 hour days. If a student needs assistance from me, awareness of my schedule is extremely important. Emails after 5pm on Friday afternoon typically won’t be answered until Saturday and possibly Monday morning. It’s why I post materials on Saturday morning and then lecture/demo on Monday — lots of lead time to ask for help when in need.

A brief bit about concerns voiced by students worried about whether they can “do” this course. Recent studies show that expectations have a gigantic effect on learning outcomes. Specifically, if you tell students that it takes a certain “gift, skill, talent, knack, etc” to become proficient at learning in a domain (ie, programming, coding, web development) they will perform less well than those who are told it’s simply a matter of practice and dedication.  These results are startling and impact even those who are told they have the “knack” to succeed. Those who are told “work and practice” perform better than those told they have talent.

What we are all going to learn requires patience, practice and detail oriented perception. Nothing in that preceding list is inborn, all are learned behaviours derived from practice. Like learning to sit still and calm the mind with meditation, coding itself teaches the behaviours required to do it properly. So, do as I say you should do, and turn off the inner critic/mind killer. That voice adds nothing but noise.

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