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 Software Engineering for Web Applications

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InstructorPhilip Greenspun

Course Description | Lecture and Course Files | Student Evaluations

Quantitative Evaluation:

  1. Lectures:
    • Clarity of lectures: 5.27
    • Organization of material: 3.54
    • Willingness to help:2.68
  2. Recitations:
    • Clarity of recitations: 4.04
    • Organization of material: 3.5
    • Willingness to help: 4.36
  3. Teaching Assistants:
  4. Michael S Allen
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 5.5
    • TA patience: 5.5
    • TA willingness to help: 5.54
  5. Dimitri Kountourogiannis
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 6.3
    • TA patience: 6.86
    • TA willingness to help: 6.9
  6. Rusty Chris
    • Clarity of TA explanations:8.3
    • TA patience:8.8
    • TA willingness to help:8.66
  7. Overall course:
    • Overall course rigor and challenge: 6.95
    • Course organization and design: 3.13
    • Clear relationship to curriculum: 5.86
  8. Administration:
    • Administrative friendliness: 8.59
    • Administrative responsiveness: 8.68

Qualitative Evaluation:
For most of the students, this month was challenging in the wrong ways. As one student wrote, \"The course was very disorganized, making it more challenging, since sometimes it was just a challenge to know what was going on.\"

Another student wrote, \"Yes, challenging is the word I would use. Lack of a concrete goal, however, makes me ask myself what should I be working on and how should I divide my time properly.\"

To summarize month 7 in one student's words, \"Its hard to really call April's experience a \"course\". It was more like extended lab time with some lectures offering helpful hints. It lacked the rigor and structure of a normal course. The challenge in the course did not come from trying to understand high-level material but from trying to understand how the tools worked and attempting to create order out of chaos.\"

For most of the class, this was a month of self-teaching.

The students were asked to evaluate not only on the program content but also the faculty and staff with whom they interacted. The following summary is based on 22 student responses out of a class of 34.

Lectures (Philip Greenspun):

The entire class found the lecture organization and the flow and structure of the course material to be extremely poor. As one student commented, \"I would like to see an actual course. This month was a joke - there was no class. The teacher couldn't or wouldn't teach, the class was never defined, recitation never existed.\"

To quote another student, \"This entire course was horribly organized, ad hoc and ill-prepared. I did not feel that I was taught anything this month; rather all of the learning I managed to accomplish came from poring over poorly-written beta documentation and talking with my fellow students. There was no syllabus, no sense of the arc of the class, no way to form expectations about what we would do in lectures. It was a great disappointment.\"

Another student commented, \"This was, without a doubt, the most disorganized course I have ever experienced. Originally, we were told to pick a set of tools and to design a web toolkit based on these tools. Then, the course was apparently changed to picking a project and building a website with the non-existent toolkit we were originally told to build. If I ran the course, I would either tell the students to design a proper web toolkit, or I would provide a toolkit and tell the students to design a website, but I would not tell them two different things.\"

Recitations (Dan Parker):

The majority of the students did not find the recitations to be necessary or useful for this course. They were rendered necessarily irrelevant by the multiple platform scenario. This definitely seemed like a lab course. As one student commented, \"The recitations went from useless to non-existent.\" Additionally, the students found Dan unable to explain topics or to lead a class.

Problem Sets:

The students found the only the problem sets to be fairly well designed, instructive and worthwhile. The thing that destroyed their potential good impact was the haphazard nature with which they were released. They were sprung on the students without any notice and with no meaningful way to incorporate them into the projects, which they had already designed and built. As one student wrote, \"The problem sets were mostly a distraction from the task at hand.\"

The students enjoyed the final project and learnt a lot from it. According to one student, \"The product of the class, the final project, was very rewarding and the best practical application in any course at ADU. For many people in the class, this will certainly be the best baggage to come out of ADU with and the skills which can be most immediately applied.\"


Most of the students did not find any of the texts prescribed to be technically useful (especially the TCL/TK book) to the work they did. Some students found Phil & Alex's Guide to be out-dated.A few students found Philip's online texts to be helpful in what they covered.

Relation to Computer Science:

Despite the poor instruction, the students understood the importance of software engineering in the discipline of CS.

Teaching Assistants (Mike,Dimitri,Rusty, Zvi and Sam Klein):

The TA's seemed to do the best they could under difficult circumstances. They appeared to be rendered impotent by the lack of structure in the class. Additionally, due to different platforms it was harder for the TA's to do their job properly and for the students to get that much input.

Computer Support:

The installation of AOL, Oracle and TCL was a major headache for the students. Though the TA's tried their best to help no one had tried installing any of the platforms before the course began. Hence, installation debugging marred the first few days of the course.

Most helpful/unhelpful staff:

The majority of the students voted Rusty as the most useful staff. As one student commented, \"Rusty was a gem: very helpful, very patient, even with things he doesn't know well himself.\"

As far as the most unhelpful staff is concerned, the students found Philip to be very unhelpful and anti-inspirational this month.

Future changes to the course:

A syllabus, together with a complete schedule, needs to be a part of the course.

Organize the course material better.

Office hours for all instructors should be mandatory.

More books and experts needed on .net.

More coordination between staff and the instructor.

More direction needed in starting with the tools and possibly preinstalled database software.

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Site last updated: May 14, 2013
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