CS373 Fall 2021: Nicholas Huang: Final Entry
How well do you think the course conveyed those takeaways?
I believe that this course had conveyed the listed takeaways decently well. Professor Downing had done a great job explaining how these concepts work and how we can apply these topics to our software engineering projects.
Were there any other particular takeaways for you?
I have learned a lot about popular software development tools during my experience in this class. These ranged from an introduction to React projects, SQLAlchemy, and many useful unit testing frameworks such as Selenium. I am very surprised at how much I have learned in one short semester.
How did you feel about cold calling?
Cold calling was initially intimidating at first, but I eventually realized that these conversations are very relaxed — similar to a straightforward conversation about the lecture material. With this in mind, I eventually grew more comfortable with the cold callings. In addition, the cold callings help me stay engaged in Professor Downing’s discussions during lectures.
How did you feel about specifications grading?
This grading system was a bit confusing to understand at first, but eventually got the hang of it. After spending a semester under this system, I can confidently say that I have mixed feelings about the specifications grading. I appreciate how they make quizzes more forgiving, but it can be pretty annoying to keep track of how many E’s or M’s I need to ensure that I receive an A.
How did you feel about help sessions and office hours?
Help sessions and office hours were very useful, especially for moments when my group and I were completely stuck on our project. Professor Downing and the TAs have done a great job helping us solve our issues, but these mostly consisted of showing us the code that they had written during their time as SWE students. I was expecting some help on understanding how these implementations work rather than a mere copy-paste.
How did you feel about the support from the TAs?
As I have said, the TAs have done a great job supporting the progress of our projects. Although their help hours mostly consisted of redirecting us to the code they had written in the past, they have also done a great job with their guidance for each project. This is especially apparent via their phase guidelines, which they have clearly spent a considerable amount of time on.
What required tool did you not know and now find very useful?
What’s the most helpful Web dev tool that your group used that was not required?
Bootstrap ended up being a very helpful tool for my project, especially when considering how much styling-related work was reduced thanks to this library. My group was easily able to make our website look nice and compatible with mobile devices with the use of Bootstrap. I will definitely consider using this library again in the future.
How did you feel about your group having to self-teach many, many technologies?
It was definitely a very tough experience, but not impossible. Unfortunately, being able to accomplish this will definitely involve a group effort. Thus, if the rest of your group does not contribute to this effort, little would be self-taught, especially when you are trying to balance this class with other classes.
Give me your suggestions for improving the course, but apologies in advance; specifications grading will remain.
I think this class experience would improve significantly if there was less self-teaching involved. Like I said, the process of quickly learning a required web development tool requires a group effort, especially for a student with very little prior knowledge about the tool in question. This is especially painful to deal with due to the fact that we are expected to work on a single project with the same group throughout the entire semester. I enjoyed the structure of Professor Downing’s OOP class during the previous Spring Semester, in which we were able to apply the knowledge gained from each lecture to the projects that we work on. Hence, my suggestion would be to discuss these tools during lectures so that each student would be able to apply this new-found knowledge to the group project. I think each student would learn a lot more as a result.