CS373 Fall 2020 Final Entry: Jesse Zou
How well do you think the course conveyed those takeaways?
I think the takeaways were conveyed pretty well. I’ll always keep in mind lazy machinery now, and I think the only other course that forced me to do so many tests was back in CS314. Professor Downing has a very effective way of teaching, and I think any point he wants to drive through will be hammered into the students by the end of the semester.
Where there any other particular takeaways for you?
As I mentioned earlier, I think the biggest takeaway is lazy machinery, and the second biggest takeaway is the optimizations that can be done in Python. I very clearly remember when Professor Downing was explaining multiple ways to iterate through a list and sum them up, and it fascinated me that so many variations had completely different performances. It makes me curious what type of optimizations are done for the built-in Python functions.
How did you feel about two-stage quizzes and tests?
I thought they were good. It’s reassuring to know that each attempt is only worth half the credit, so it makes me more inclined to take risks.
How did you feel about cold calling?
It’s very nerve-wracking, and I always have to stay on my toes for it. I don’t know if this is lucky or not, but I always ended up being one of the last people called for each rotation, which always left me nervous because I wasn’t sure when I would be called. However, I think it actually turned out pretty great for me since it forced me to pay attention in class despite the dreary nature of Zoom. I think it’s a great tool for keeping the class engaged, and it’s good knowing that it’s okay to be wrong. I also thought the way Professor Downing explained concepts as if it was a conversation with just that particular student was great. He made sure to not generalize things and repeated himself several times to emphasize certain points, which was pretty helpful for me.
How did you feel about office hours?
Honestly, I only went to one office hour for the credit, and one of the main reasons is that I was swamped this semester. I definitely would’ve wanted to go though since I had several questions about the inner workings of Python, and hopefully I’ll figure out a way to have them answered one way or another. I’m sure office hours were very helpful though since the TA’s were very competent.
How did you feel about lab sessions?
I think lab sessions were very helpful. Every time I went, the TA’s were very helpful and explained the concepts pretty thoroughly.
Give me your suggestions for improving the course.
I think the disjoint between the projects and the course material is somewhat strange to work around. I think it would be more effective to somehow restructure the course material so that it compliments the projects, but I know that would be pretty difficult to accomplish. I also think that some of the requirements of the projects are quite limiting or don’t seem too practical for a lot of the project ideas that went through. I think a little more freedom would go a long way! I also think having each group come up with a unique feature on their project would have been interesting. Since every group did sorting, filtering, searching, etc, I got to see a lot of different ways to accomplish the same thing, but I think it would add a little flavor and identity to have some feature that only belongs to that project.