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Should I Jack My Course In?

This is a discussion on Should I Jack My Course In? within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I'm really thinking of jacking my course in. But I would appreciate the advice of people who have been on ...

  1. #1
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    Should I Jack My Course In?

    I'm really thinking of jacking my course in. But I would appreciate the advice of people who have been on these courses before and completed them.

    First, I'm getting no enjoyment from it.

    Secondly, I'm dreading assignments (in fact I feel nervously sick).

    Thirdly, I feel there is too much "go off and do this yourself (example, I got marked down for not using <math.h> when we had never been told about it nor shown it) without being shown or told what we need" rather than lecturers showing us how to do what we need and then asking us to manipulate it.

    I really feel its a bit like someone saying "ok that's a car, now drive".

    I'm only in my 6th week and am trying to give it time to see if something clicks, but I really feel demotivated.

    I'm not a stupid nor lazy guy. I have numerous university level qualifications in other fields which I had to work hard to get. But the problem is, I never felt so lost or deflated on any course previously.

    Question, is this generally how students who begin learning about computers (I also feel this way about my database module) feel or is it indicative that computers are simply not for me?

  2. #2
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I don't quite know the expression "jacking a course in", so I have to assume it's just bad translation or I'm just not in a clear state of mind. It sounds like you're asking about whether or not you should drop your course if you don't feel comfortable with it and if that's the case then I would say, yes, you should drop it. It's always a better idea to drop the credits and make up for them in a future semester than to take the hit on your GPA if you think your grade is not going to meet your standards. As for your final question... no I wouldn't say your performance or interest in a particular course is indicative of your abilities to program or use computers. Poor teaching, poor facilities, and poor course literature can deter even the most proficient programmers from performing well in a course and it seems by what you're saying that those things are having an effect on you. It never hurts to get back on the horse and try again... if you don't like it on the second or third go... maybe then you can reconsider your interest in the field... but one try is never enough to know your capabilities or desires in any part of life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    I don't quite know the expression "jacking a course in", so I have to assume it's just bad translation or I'm just not in a clear state of mind. It sounds like you're asking about whether or not you should drop your course if you don't feel comfortable with it and if that's the case then I would say, yes, you should drop it. It's always a better idea to drop the credits and make up for them in a future semester than to take the hit on your GPA if you think your grade is not going to meet your standards. As for your final question... no I wouldn't say your performance or interest in a particular course is indicative of your abilities to program or use computers. Poor teaching, poor facilities, and poor course literature can deter even the most proficient programmers from performing well in a course and it seems by what you're saying that those things are having an effect on you. It never hurts to get back on the horse and try again... if you don't like it on the second or third go... maybe then you can reconsider your interest in the field... but one try is never enough to know your capabilities or desires in any part of life.
    That makes sense, thanks. The problem is, its a one year course and so if I drop a module I fail the whole program.

    (Jacking in the course is probably British slang (I'm British so it seems a normal expression to me, but perhaps it isn't elsewhere in the English language world - or perhaps its a term local to my part of Britain if you are from there too).

    I was motivated at the beginning but I feel that my lecturers are very poor (perhaps weak) and it really leaves me quite deflated. I'll give it another go this week and see where I am at the end. I think half the trouble is the workload they give us is supposed to take 10 hours, most of the students, including myself, are needing 30-50 hours just to complete one module, and we have three going at the same time!!! Perhaps I should just say, right its getting 10 hours and no more.

  4. #4
    &TH of undefined behavior Fordy's Avatar
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    As you are British bear in mind that GPA and skipping semesters works differently in the UK education system. Also, don't forget that the transitional fee structure on university fees end (IIRC) this year, meaning starting a new course/degree might be very expensive next year. I started another degree course this year just to get the lower fees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
    As you are British bear in mind that GPA and skipping semesters works differently in the UK education system. Also, don't forget that the transitional fee structure on university fees end (IIRC) this year, meaning starting a new course/degree might be very expensive next year. I started another degree course this year just to get the lower fees.
    Thanks for the great advice, but I am British but live outside the UK so whilst what you said is very true, and I know its a big concern for a lot of my friends, it doesn't affect me.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Yeah... with the case of you being British, I'd have to say that you should disregard some of my more specific advice. I still stand by my feelings on whether or not you should use your interest in the course to gauge your interest in the subject, but try to ignore the bit about whether you should drop it or not. In the USA, if you drop a course early enough in the semester it doesn't count against your GPA at all. In most cases you get full or partial refund on the credits, as well... the only thing you have to bite the bullet on is falling behind on credits and possibly screwing up your course structure with prerequisites and such. Generally the US expectation is that if you don't like it by the time the drop deadline comes around you should always drop it... but out there if it's going to cause you to fail the course then you have a lot more to consider... in fact, if GPA is a huge concern and you feel you can pass it, I'd say stick with it and get the best grade that you can. Then again there seems to be even more factors involved that I have no familiarity with... so perhaps it's best you stick with advice from other Brits... there are certainly plenty on this forum.
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    Thanks! I think its the teaching though. Just got the assignment and they're throwing things at us like program the Fibonnaci sequence. With respect, I think if they wanted us to do stuff like that then they should have made maths (I only studied maths until 16 years) at a very high level a prerequisite of the course.

    Its like me asking a non-history graduate to write a 2000 word essay on the differences between Beria and Riefenstahl.

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Interista View Post
    Thanks! I think its the teaching though. Just got the assignment and they're throwing things at us like program the Fibonnaci sequence. With respect, I think if they wanted us to do stuff like that then they should have made maths (I only studied maths until 16 years) at a very high level a prerequisite of the course.
    Hmmm -- maybe it is that you are just not interested enough. Would you enjoy programming for its own sake, without the promise of a career? If not, are you sure it is good choice? Remember, at some point you may have to work and/or compete with people who genuinely love programming, and did not just pick it because they could not think of anything else and need to make money somehow.

    Or else you are just giving in too easily/psyching yourself out.

    The fib sequence DOES NOT require "a high level of math". I didn't go beyond grade ten (so, I was also about 16), but I ran into the fib sequence when learning about recursive functions (having never heard of either thing before). I think it took about half an hour with google and wikipedia to figure it out; the only prerequisite being basic arithmetic.
    Last edited by MK27; 10-25-2011 at 11:50 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  9. #9
    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    > First, I'm getting no enjoyment from it.
    So why did you pick the course anyway? I mean, what was your initial motivation?

    If, as you say, "I have numerous university level qualifications in other fields", why pick this one?
    If it was simply "to burn another year at UNI while the economy is still in the pits", then yes, you're on the wrong course for the wrong reasons.

    What are your other qualifications in? You mention history in this thread, and Italian in another thread.
    If they're all non-technical, then something like this can come as a bit of a shock to the system. Whilst programming can (eventually) be taught to most intelligent people, some kind of natural aptitude for it goes a pretty long way to making it "easy and enjoyable".

    > I think half the trouble is the workload they give us is supposed to take 10 hours,
    > most of the students, including myself, are needing 30-50 hours just to complete one module,
    Is this thread of yours a single module, or just one fraction of a module?

    If there are 3 of them (as per your comment), then all three of those kind of problems ought to be readily achievable within 10 hours.

    But if it really is "most students" having this scale of a problem between expectation and reality (10hrs vs 50), then the faculty needs to be sharing some of the blame/burden or what have you. Was there any initial interview or test of basic numeracy (for example), or was it just a case of "we'll take anybody so long as they've got money" kinda thing.

    > Perhaps I should just say, right its getting 10 hours and no more.
    Finding some balance between "dumping your assignment" and "20 hours of frustration" would be a good idea. Spend a third of the guide time on the problem yourself, and then post here would be my suggestion.
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    Hopefully I'm not going over ground that's already been covered, as I briefly skimmed over the other replies, but:

    I would say that if you are taking programming courses that are on the lower end of the spectrum, or beginner/starter courses, you should absolutely be handled with kid gloves and the teacher is simply no good and lacks the sensitivity to the many complications of getting someone familiar with programming. If you are at mid or higher level classes, they do assume you are familiar with programming, researching, seeing through terse instructions, etc. For example, I'm in a databases class right now, and for the PHP portion we've been given a brief overview on its use and a link to a php tutorial. We'll be expected to complete an assignment on it and incorporate into a website within a week. Pretty standard situation for me by now, though.
    I made a pair of "Braille Gloves" which have 6 vibration motors in six finger tips and vibrate in the relevant patterns. I have used this to read stuff while out walking. Given there is a fairly well defined programmer-oriented Braille encoding I should imagine it would work in this situation. Diagrams could be a pain still.

    Note: I am not blind but have learnt Braille fairly easily so for me it works quite well

    Disclaimer: I haven't tried this while driving yet...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    Hmmm -- maybe it is that you are just not interested enough. Would you enjoy programming for its own sake, without the promise of a career? If not, are you sure it is good choice? Remember, at some point you may have to work and/or compete with people who genuinely love programming, and did not just pick it because they could not think of anything else and need to make money somehow.

    Or else you are just giving in too easily/psyching yourself out.
    I started on it because I like using computers (as an average user) so I imagined I would like to learn more.


    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    > I think half the trouble is the workload they give us is supposed to take 10 hours,
    > most of the students, including myself, are needing 30-50 hours just to complete one module,
    Is this thread of yours a single module, or just one fraction of a module?

    If there are 3 of them (as per your comment), then all three of those kind of problems ought to be readily achievable within 10 hours.

    But if it really is "most students" having this scale of a problem between expectation and reality (10hrs vs 50), then the faculty needs to be sharing some of the blame/burden or what have you. Was there any initial interview or test of basic numeracy (for example), or was it just a case of "we'll take anybody so long as they've got money" kinda thing.

    > Perhaps I should just say, right its getting 10 hours and no more.
    Finding some balance between "dumping your assignment" and "20 hours of frustration" would be a good idea. Spend a third of the guide time on the problem yourself, and then post here would be my suggestion.
    There were actually 3 left. Every week its 10 programs like that. Though I did find things a little easier this week because I said I'll do as much as I can in 10 hours, the rest I leave. I've gotten 7, nearly 8 done, whereas before I'd have done 4 or 5 by now. Yes, we are complete beginners, no there were no tests at all, just apply and in.

    I would add a few things to those I said a few days ago...

    1. I'm also studying Java (beginner) and am finding that more enjoyable as the lecturer goes more slowly, only sets us between 2 to 4 programs per week, and shows us stuff.

    2. I'm doing Databases (beginner), its a little frustrating but I do feel I'm learning. Again, its at a slow enough pace and the lecturer is helpful.

    3. I'm doing C (as you know, beginner), but find the pace is far too fast (as I said other students have complained of this too, which is the only reason I didn't go mad), we must write 10 programs per week and we're shown nothing, just reams of notes to read.

    Also, I broke ranks on Monday and instead of doing the lecturers I watched the videos on TheNewBoston and found that once things were explained as they are there, then things become much easier. Wouldn't say easy, but not as hard and more enjoyable. I also followed another poster's (here) advice to plan first on paper then work on computer. That helps too. Can honestly say, I've got seven (nearly eight, could well get eighth) and I feel I've spent my ten hours well. Also, attempting to be more relaxed, if I put ten hours in every week and I fail, well I gave it my best shot.
    Last edited by Interista; 10-27-2011 at 03:23 AM.
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    As an undergrad student in the US studying CS, I think the worst part of this situation is your course position. Had you already taken the Java and Databases courses before taking C, I bet you wouldn't have felt this way for any course.

    The lectures I've had in regards to C have been amazing this year, because they provide a clear definition and usage for every element of each topic within C, along with how these topics are differently structured and used within Java. Since Java seems to come more naturally for beginners, this has been a great way to explain how we will have to use our current knowledge of Java differently for C. Since you come from a user-level, but are taking both Java and C concurrently, you may simply be lacking a knowledge of the basics. If you don't know how to move a problem from a real-world setting to a program, you get the feeling you've been describing throughout...

    Along with this, you may already have enough information to do your work, but it is taking too much work and time to complete it because you don't know how this information is useful. You already know how to better use your time, so now you need to ask your instructors to help you along with this further. If material needs to be explained differently during office hours, or their are simply a few minor dots that need to be connected for you within the context of the information and the problems, demand that they give some effort to your understanding since you are already giving them your effort and time.

    You seem to have the capacity for all of this, but I'm assuming that your issues come from simple things. I think it's more likely that you have the information available, but you just don't have the important/relevant information to go along with it, such as when, how, or why you use this information to get your work done.
    Interestingly enough, I feel as if it is exactly like asking a non-history graduate to write a 2000 word essay at this point, and the instructor is probably giving you all of the resources you need. But, he also needs to give you where to find the relevant information, so that moving those resource to an essay becomes easily digestible.

    To put it simply, keep going, but only slightly differently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theraven17 View Post
    As an undergrad student in the US studying CS, I think the worst part of this situation is your course position. Had you already taken the Java and Databases courses before taking C, I bet you wouldn't have felt this way for any course.

    The lectures I've had in regards to C have been amazing this year, because they provide a clear definition and usage for every element of each topic within C, along with how these topics are differently structured and used within Java. Since Java seems to come more naturally for beginners, this has been a great way to explain how we will have to use our current knowledge of Java differently for C. Since you come from a user-level, but are taking both Java and C concurrently, you may simply be lacking a knowledge of the basics. If you don't know how to move a problem from a real-world setting to a program, you get the feeling you've been describing throughout...

    Along with this, you may already have enough information to do your work, but it is taking too much work and time to complete it because you don't know how this information is useful. You already know how to better use your time, so now you need to ask your instructors to help you along with this further. If material needs to be explained differently during office hours, or their are simply a few minor dots that need to be connected for you within the context of the information and the problems, demand that they give some effort to your understanding since you are already giving them your effort and time.

    You seem to have the capacity for all of this, but I'm assuming that your issues come from simple things. I think it's more likely that you have the information available, but you just don't have the important/relevant information to go along with it, such as when, how, or why you use this information to get your work done.
    Interestingly enough, I feel as if it is exactly like asking a non-history graduate to write a 2000 word essay at this point, and the instructor is probably giving you all of the resources you need. But, he also needs to give you where to find the relevant information, so that moving those resource to an essay becomes easily digestible.

    To put it simply, keep going, but only slightly differently.
    Described my feelings quite succinctly, except that I have my doubts that my lecturer actually knows what he's doing himself. I have a feeling he's waffling from a book and doesn't actually know how to use the stuff himself.

  14. #14
    Registered User manasij7479's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Interista View Post
    Described my feelings quite succinctly, except that I have my doubts that my lecturer actually knows what he's doing himself. I have a feeling he's waffling from a book and doesn't actually know how to use the stuff himself.
    Knowing the stuff and knowing how to explain the stuff to someone who doesn't are completely different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by manasij7479 View Post
    Knowing the stuff and knowing how to explain the stuff to someone who doesn't are completely different.
    That's 100% true. I am a language teacher, there are millions of people who KNOW the languages I teach, far fewer who can teach them. (That doesn't mean that I believe I am a world class teacher, just that I can spot bad teaching when I see it).

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