Keep Working, Worker Bee!


So if you recall from yesterday, I was really worried about the test I was set to give today. It's amazing, I honestly was worried to death about whether I'd made the test too hard, whether nobody would be able to finish it, and so on. I was convinced by several people that I'd made it too long for an hour, so I bumped up the time to two hours, but I was having horrible visions of nobody being able to finish even in that time and having everybody fail and hate me.

Well, I gave out the test today (here it is, in case you're curious). First of all, four of my six students finished in one hour. Second, I actually think it was too easy for most of them — pretty much everybody got the idea of everything, and most pretty much did everything right. If I'd have known that, I probably would have changed problem 2 to deal with 2-3-4 trees instead of plain trinary trees and I'd've made the function they had to write for it something fancier, maybe making them drop every leaf to the minimum value a la Dave's example (albeit not using Haskell craziness and therefore not nearly as awesome).

I learned a lot about test-designing mistakes from the responses I got. The first problem wasn't clear enough about how I wanted each kind of data represented, which led some people to give superheroes an integer number of powers rather than a list of powers as I'd intended. My fault; I'll do better next time. I also really should've made people write me a third function using map at the end of problem 3; without it students can pursue the "smash two functions together with a cond and switch based an a symbol" method of abstraction and not hit a brick wall at the end that makes them rethink their logic. Also, I awarded way too many points for the bonus. Ten would've been plenty. I will do better on all these fronts in the future.

But overall: the test went great, and I am completely in awe of my class for doing as well as it has. It's only been three weeks since they wrote their first program, and now a test everybody told me was too hard and that makes them come up with their own tree representation and discover map on their own turns out to be too easy for them. If you're one of my students: you rule, a point on which I'll elaborate on Monday. :)

In other news, the programming contest phase 2 starts tomorrow morning. I stayed in the office late working on it (which is why this post is appearing now, quite a bit after worker-bee bedtime). I'm glad I did; I didn't actually do anything useful, but I was convinced that there was a potential bug lurking somewhere nobody else thought there'd be a bug, and due to my insistence two of us made a somewhat complicated test case to find it. That test case proved me wrong, but at the same time exposed another bug that happened to be the very bug that was completely dumbfounding the third member of the team. So, uh, I rule indirectly.


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