For any STEM-related class, studying involves more than just memorizing facts to put on paper. Instead, students need to gain a full comprehension of how each new bit of code that they learn fits in with what they already know. They need to become comfortable enough with this new knowledge to seamlessly integrate it into future coding projects.
While common study methods involve things like rereading notes or memorizing the syntax for code, the techniques below are more specific to students learning CS at KTBYTE. Below are the best ways to be prepared for a CS classes and assignments.
1) Distributed Practice
It takes time to master the content, and CS is no different. Studies have shown that students should be rereading notes and reviewing the material over a prolonged period to increase retention rates. While skimming over the information once might get the student immediate results, the information might not stick with them for as long as they should. The best way to do this is by practicing and reviewing outside of class on a regular experience.
We can see this from experience. Some of our camps take a semester's worth of content and compact it into daily camps that run five hours a day, twenty-five hours total. With the shortened time, students don't have time for quizzes or homework. However, students retain more in the full course that runs for eighteen weeks with homework and quiz assignments as they need to review for quizzes often and use material they learned in class for homework.
2) Interleaved Practice
Interleaved practice deals with mixing multiple topics while studying. KTBYTE's CS classes focus on this strategy due to the interdisciplinary nature of the courses, as different units all have material that may be needed for one big project. Students have to use various CS concepts learned throughout the semester as they code, and by showing them practical applications, they're able to make games or animations.
For younger students, this means that they get to have fun while they learn. The concepts are applied immediately and reused throughout the semester in various contexts to allow for better and longer-term understanding. They'll enjoy studying the various ways to use new syntax learned and see the way it impacts their programs.We show students direct applications of the topic to interesting project ideas that require code learned throughout multiple units.
3) Review Old Pieces of Code
Sometimes, it is easy for students to forget what they have done earlier in the semester. The best way to quickly refresh their memories is to review old bits of code that they have written so that they can see how the new concepts and syntax works in various projects. They'll be able to quickly relearn how code can be implemented contextually, relative to a problem.
To facilitate this study method, students should remember to leave comments in the code. Something as simple as explaining what a chunk of the code does, or an explanation at the beginning, can make the review process much easier as they'll be able to quickly remind themselves of why they coded it in that specific way. They'll be able to gain the same insights they had while working on the problem, remembering the most important pieces.
This could also help when students deal with tracing code. For example, to make sure that students have a deep understanding of how each part works, they can take a test case and examine how each line of code would change it and solve the problem. This method also works if they are confused by what each block of code may do, since they will be able to study it one piece at a time. It may help clarify confusing sections or if their comments for one part was not clear on how the code would act.
4) Alternative Methods
To make sure students can fully understand a problem, it could be worth it for them to brainstorm up other potential methods for solving it. Have them tweak small parts of the code to see how it affects the project as a whole, and see if they could simplify the lines they wrote. By thinking about the problem from different angles, students prepare themselves for future quiz questions by gaining a full understanding of the topic.
5) Rubber Duck Debugging (Or Self-Explanation)
One of the more amusing methods of practicing is by “rubber duck debugging.” This is a form of self-explanation where students take a rubber duck, or any inanimate object, and explain their code to it. They'll have to work through every line, and it is a good way to make sure they understood the steps they took to get to the result. In addition, if there were any errors in their code, many times they'll be able to find it through this method. Surprisingly this method is found to be very effective and even professional programmers use it often in tough situations.
For students who want to master the material covered in class, above are some of the best ways to prepare them for quizzes and increase their long-term retention rates. A good programmer must have a strong foundation, and it requires practice and time to reach a complete understanding. By starting early and getting good study habits as soon as possible, you are setting up the student for success.