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DickBaldwin
08-12-2007, 08:41 PM
I just finished teaching a Programming Fundamentals (CS0) course using Alice for the first time ever.

Normally we teach this course using C++, but I was able to get special permission to use Alice for the first time during the summer section. I am happy to report that this was the best course in Programming Fundamentals that I have ever taught.

Student retention was outstanding, which is not common in the community college where I teach. We typically have a very high dropout rate.

Attendance was very good, both in the lecture and in the lab.

Student interest was much better than normal. (Most students actually enjoyed the labs.) It seems they would rather write code to make a rabbit jump or an ice skater spin than to write code to compute and print an amortization table. As it turns out, most of the students were working far ahead of where they were required to be at any point in the semester and most of them did work that was not required in the course (such as event handling).

I probably won't be teaching this particular course again until next summer. I hope that I am allowed to use Alice again. I also hope (but am not optimistic) that version 3 will be available by then, because it promises to be even better.

Dick Baldwin
Professor of Computer Studies
Austin Community College

lanceA
08-13-2007, 08:14 AM
Congratulations !!

You've discovered an important aspect of what ALICE is all about - teaching beginning computer science students a complex, and sometimes boring subject using a graphical front-end. And you are absolutely correct when you say beginning students would much rather make a rabbit hop or a dragon flap its wings as it flys then "...to write code to compute and print an amortization table". That comes next semester. :)

Have fun !!

I too thank Gaddis' book on Alice is a good one to use for a beginners course.