Our semester in CS 120 has been an incredibly fruitful one thus far. At the outset, I’m sure that most students enrolled in the class had no expectation that their programming capabilities would be developed to the level at which they now rest. Ralph Hooper, the course instructor, entered the first week of class with an introduction of elementary computing concepts – distinguishing between hardware and software, defining concepts such as abstraction and decomposition. But over the course of this one, short semester we have picked up and applied many programming concepts that we previously had no experience with. We’ve studied the steps of the program development cycle, discussed the significance and value of program modularization, and developed knowledge of different variables, data structures, loop structures, arrays, and functions. The firsthand experience we have accumulated with handling files and performing operations on them has built a solid foundation for the future encounters that we will have with computer programming over the remainder of our MIS career.
By this point, it should be apparent to all CS 120 and MIS 295 students that it is time for us to significantly alter our approach to the learning process. For the majority of an average student’s educational experience, you spend a great deal of time memorizing dates and learning formulas – only to switch it off and erase it from your memory as soon as you walk out of the classroom door. But a change is necessary when we begin learning new approaches to problem solving and essentially a new way of thinking – when each class begins to build on the one before, and your post-college success rests solely on your ability to apply these new ways of thinking. You can’t learn to the test anymore. We’re learning something more important than what can be tested on a scantron sheet. We’re beginning to build an impressive collection of some of the most valuable skills out there.