CSC News

February 13, 2017

It’s a Snap! To Learn Computer Programming

On January 21, a handful of first time programming students attended the Snap! Day event. This program, coordinated by Dr. Suzanne Balik, teaching assistant professor in the NC State Computer Science Department, provided students a crash course on the challenging subject of computer programming.
The students learned and practiced Snap!, a visual drag-and-drop programming language. Throughout the day, students were also able to connect with other beginning programmers in a relaxed environment. Two students in the Distance Education version of CSC 116 directly benefitted by the opportunity to connect in an in-person setting.
CSC 116, an introduction to programming class, consists of nine sections with great variations of age and levels of expertise. To bridge the gap for students without prior programming experience, Balik decided to implement NC State Computer Science’s first Snap! Day event.
The half-day event was led by two current NC State Computer Science students: Alex Milliken, a computer science graduate student working under the direction of Dr. Tiffany Barnes, and undergraduate student Caroline Law. Milliken related the experience to Java programming concepts such as loops, methods, and variables which provided a teaching approach different than students are used to in the classroom.
Balik, the CSC 116 Course Coordinator, designed the day to foster confidence in students new to computer programming, and promote success within the discipline. “In Spring 2016, 95% of my CSC 116 students with prior programming experience earned an A or B in the course compared to only 64% of students with no prior programming experience.”
Without the constraints of grades, the students were able to have fun and familiarize themselves with the program. The four-hour day consisted of programming scattered with breaks for pizza, snacks, and dessert.

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