CS 3342B 2019

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To whom it may concern,


The following is an amalgamation of the concerns of students currently taking Organization of Programming Languages (CS3342) instructed by Professor Robert Webber. The purpose of this document is to bring to light some of the serious issues we are facing in regards to the course’s instruction, content and assessments. It is our hope that these issues can be resolved so that we are able to return to the fair and positive learning environment that we are used to as Western students.


These issues include:

1. Class lectures are extremely unorganized and consist primarily of the instructor vaguely summarizing third party information sources and then directing students to these resources to grasp the content for themselves. Professor Webber often gets sidetracked and will go on tangents regarding seemingly irrelevant topics that are not within the scope of CS3342. This leaves almost no time for discussion regarding concepts that are necessary for completing this course’s assignments. This is made worse by the fact assignments presume knowledge of Finite State Machines and other concepts that are taught in Advanced Object Oriented Programming (CS3331) which is not a prerequisite for this course. Although these concepts are briefly discussed in class, the instructor does not allocate nearly enough time to teach these concepts to students who have not encountered them yet. This creates a huge disadvantage for students who have not taken CS3331 before and it is extremely unfair.


2. Assignments are not structured in a clear way making it incredibly confusing for students to decipher what is meant by the instructions. In addition, student’s programs are required to adhere to test cases which have no high-level description whatsoever. Students are only provided with a portion of the code from the testing program and the code does not even contain any comments that clarify what is going on. This makes it extremely difficult to figure out how his testing program is supposed to interact with our program, particularly because the majority of students in the class are seeing these languages for the first time. As such, this is a huge distraction from the learning goal of the assignment in the first place. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, these assignments are largely based on content taught in CS3331. As the assignments for this course are 72% of the total mark, student’s without previous knowledge of these concepts are at a huge disadvantage and risk potentially failing the course.

 

3. Professor Webber does not hold office hours and refuses to answer questions in regards to assignments in person. Students are not permitted to reach out to TA’s either with questions regarding assignments. This prevents students from receiving much needed clarification regarding the confusing nature of the lectures and assignments in the course. The only place questions are permitted are on the “course wiki” which is essentially a forum. Professor Webber’s answers to student’s questions are often unclear and not helpful. Questions regarding course concepts are often answered by a link to the Wikipedia page about the concept which is not really useful in most cases.

 

The former issues are extremely damaging to the learning experience of students taking this course. This sentiment is shared by most, if not all, students currently enrolled in the course. It is our hope that these issues can be resolved immediately so we can stop worrying and start learning.