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Assignment 1: Administrivia and survey

Note: There are three parts to this assignment, including more than a dozen questions in part two of this assignment. Some students seem to miss some of those questions because they don’t flip the sheet in the printed version. Please remember to look on all sides.

Summary: In this assignment, you will gather information about the structure of the course and then respond to a few basic questions about the course and about yourself.

Purposes: To encourage you to learn about the structure of the course and the course web. To give me a bit more information about you. To get you started thinking about the course.

Expected Time: One to two hours for parts one and two. Additional time for the readings in part three.

Collaboration: Each student should turn in his, her, zir, or their own responses to this assignment. However, you may certainly work with other students as you review the course materials and answer the questions. You may discuss the assignment with anyone you wish. You may obtain help from anyone you wish, but you should clearly document that help.

Citation: Since this assignment explicitly asks you to read and summarize pages on the course web, you need not cite such pages. However, if you rely on pages from outside the course web for information, you should cite those pages.

Submitting: Please submit this work via two separate email messages to The first should have a subject of “CSC 151 Course Details (Your Name)” and should contain your answers to the first part of this assignment. The second should have a subject of “CSC 151 Survey Responses (Your Name)” and should contain your answers to the second part of this assignment. You should replace the phrase “Your Name” with your name. For example, if I were to submit answers to the first set of questions, it would be titled “CSC 151 Course Details (Samuel A. Rebelsky)”.

Please send your work in the body of each email message. I don’t like attachments and prefer not to receive them when they can be avoided.

Warning: So that this assignment is a learning experience for everyone, I may spend class time publicly critiquing your work.

Note: It takes me about fifteen minutes to read, reflect on, and respond to one submission. Given my workload and personal wellness goals for this semester, it is likely that I will take more than a week to respond.


Part one: The course

As you might have been able to tell from the first day of class, I have a wide variety of opinions about learning and teaching in CS which are reflected in how I run the class. You can (and should) learn more about these perspectives from the course web. In this portion of the assignment, you will review the course web and answer some basic questions.

First, read the following items.

Next, answer the following questions.

  1. What should you do to prepare for each class meeting?
  2. What happens if you turn in a homework assignment late?
  3. Explain what an eboard is (or seems to be) and list a few ways one can find the eboard for a particular class.
  4. Why are there stacks of blank index cards at the back of the classroom?
  5. Give at least three ways that you can figure out what work you have due for the course.
  6. When can you work with other students in the course and when can you not work with other students?
  7. Are you permitted to ask me questions via text messages and, if so, what principles should you follow when texting me?
  8. How else can you obtain help from me?
  9. Who else can you rely upon for help in this course?
  10. Do you agree to abide by my policies on academic honesty and the department policies on academic honesty? If you feel that you can’t agree with these policies, we’ll need to have a meeting ASAP to discuss your concerns or questions, as these polices are in effect for the course. (If I feel that your concerns or questions are reasonable, I will likely revise those policies.)
  11. What are two other important things you learned in this part of the assignment?
  12. What are two important things you learned on the first day of class? If you weren’t there on the first day of class, what was your first day in my class and what are two important things you learned from that day of class?
  13. Why do you think I gave you this assignment?
  14. What questions about the class do you have that are not answered by the Web site? (Feel free to say that you have none.)

Part two: About you

As I start a new course, I like to learn a little bit about each student in the course. I find that knowing more about my students helps me teach better. Hence, I provide a short survey at the start of each semester.

  1. What is your name?
  2. What are your gender pronouns (e.g., he/him/his, she/her/her, ze/zir/zir, they/them/theirs)? If you would prefer not to share your gender prounouns, you need not do so. If you tell me your pronouns, I will do my best to use your chosen pronouns, but I will likely fail at times. I mean no disrespect if I use the incorrect pronoun.
  3. How would you prefer that I address you if I address you by your given name (first name)?
  4. How would you prefer that I address you if I address you by your surname (family name, last name)? That is, if I choose to address students using forms like “Mr. Smith”, “Ms. Jones”, and “Mx. Brown”, how should I address you? If you insist, I can do without the title, as in “Smith”.
  5. What phone number should I use when I want to contact you? Can I use this number to text you if that seems to be a better way to communicate with you?
  6. Where are you from?
  7. What is your major (or intended major)? And yes, it’s okay to say “I have no idea.”
  8. Who is your academic advisor? (Who are your academic advisors, if you have more than one?)
  9. What courses are you taking this term? Please include meeting times. I prefer course names to course abbreviations, although you should feel free to include abbreviations in addition to names.
  10. Tell me a little bit about your background with computers. It’s fine if you have no background; we assume none for this course. It’s also fine if you have a lot, or any amount in between.
  11. Why did you register for CSC 151?
  12. What do you hope to learn or gain from this course?
  13. What are your biggest concerns for the course?
  14. Do you currently plan to take more computer science after CSC 151? (It’s fine to say that you don’t know; it’s fine to change your mind.)
  15. What do you like most about Grinnell? (If you don’t like anything about Grinnell, what do you dislike least?)
  16. What do you dislike most about Grinnell? If you like everything about Grinnell, what do you like least about Grinnell?
  17. Most surveys like this ask you to list your five favorite books, movies, TV shows, CDs, chia animals, buildings on campus, professors, scholars convocations, or whatever. I’ll give you a little more freedom. Pick a category of objects (it can be one that I listed, it can be one that I didn’t list), and list five of your favorite objects in that category.
  18. What else should I know about you?
  19. Since I’m asking you all of these questions, it is only fair that you get to ask me some questions. What, if anything, would you like to know about me? (You need not ask anything; I’m just trying to provide you with an option. And I certainly reserve the right not to answer questions.)

Part three: Start reading

Do the readings for the next class, which include a reading that introduces the Linux operating system, a reading that examines the parts of algorithms, a reading about the DrRacket program development environment, and a reading that introduces the Scheme programming langauge..

Important evaluation criteria

I will evaluate your work on the seriousness with which you approach the assignment and your correctness in answering the questions. (Yes, particularly clever or amusing answers are likely to earn you a modicum of additional credit. Remember, I have a lot of these to read and anything that goes beyond the norm is likely to make my task more enjoyable.)