October 5, 2008

Pondering the Data

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:57 pm by carolynresearch

People are weird about writing code. Well, I think people are weird about writing code. I guess I’ve found another area where I assume people do things in the way I think is the obvious way.

I was transcribing a couple sessions where pairs of students worked through problems, and was struck with how different the general approaches of two pairs had been, in ways which I hadn’t really thought about before.

All four students are bright, and keen. At least three of the four had looked up more information about something I’d mentioned (one even looked up Dijkstra’s guarded command language on Wikipedia – I would not have guessed that would catch someone’s interest), and they all asked interesting questions.

One pair started attacking a question by writing a bit of code, then checking syntax, and wondered if they could verify partial implementations. They added code bit by bit. The other pair wrote pseudocode for the whole problem on paper first. I could almost call them an “agile” pair and an “upfront design” pair, if those labels made any sense for one sitting coding tasks.

I’m still transcribing, so I’m still trying to figure out what the “gut level” difference between these pairs amounts to. They used different data structures, had different implementation problems with the small models, and had different levels of success. I do think there’s something I have to ponder here, though I have no idea if it will stand up to scrutiny.

In other news, I’m hoping my new microphone makes for clearer recordings.

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