[PLUG] [Event report] Introduction to Python: Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune, India

Parag Shah adaptives at gmail.com
Tue Aug 16 15:38:44 IST 2011

> > Do you think it would make sense to repeat this in other colleges? What
> is
> > required - an enthusiastic faculty member? A strong student group?
> All of the above and, a method to continue the follow-up to encourage
> 'applied' discussions. For example, once the basics of programming

 It would be excellent to be able to continue the follow up with either
discussions or projects, on the applied aspects of Python programming. I
have tried to do this in different contexts with students as well as
employed programmers, but unfortunately those efforts have not been
very successful.

I am sure there are many reasons for not being successful, and it's entirely
possible that I need to tweak my ways, but I have noticed a few things,
which I will share. Perhaps others have noticed them, and have answers about
how to approach the issues:

I have noticed that people will show a lot of initial enthusiasm. To put it
in context, there will be a lot of initial enthusiasm for a Python workshop,
for example. But if you try to encourage follow up discussions or projects
in the applied programming, then the enthusiasm will drop by more than 90%.

My theory is that, to be able to do anything over a sustained period of
time, the only way to get it to work is to tie it to tangible rewards.
Unfortunately, tangible rewards for students - are grades, and for employees
- are appraisals. Please do not take this as a negative remark for either
students or employed programmers. I am just stating what I have observed,
and perhaps things are such because of the way our system works.

The fact that improving skills will indirectly increase knowledge and
performance, which will lead to better jobs, appraisals, is something I have
found hard to get across. Even if I am able to get the point across, I
have definitely found it close to impossible to get sustained participation.

In defense of students as well as employed programmers, I will say that they
often work under crazy workloads. Our colleges have a ridiculous number of
credits which a student has to earn in a semester, which makes it impossible
for them to really work on anything outside of the curriculum.

This may be somewhat of a chicken-egg problem, which is hard to resolve...

I believe many good universities in the US, do not teach programming per se.
They have applied programming courses, in which students learn programming
in the process of building something. I also believe that students are
allowed to build what they want to. As wonderful a concept as this is, it is
very difficult to grade the work done by students, in an objective manner.
We have such a heavy focus on grading, that such a course would be a
non-starter in the academic context ...

I do not have answers about how to tackle this problem... but I am hoping
that a discussion will follow, and we might be able to come close to some

Thanks & Regards
Parag Shah

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