# How Ot Solve A Regular Math Series On C++ Program Computer Science: It Is Not Programming But Problem Solving

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## Computer Science: It Is Not Programming But Problem Solving

I have had the pleasure and opportunity to do one of my favorite hobbies in the last two years, and that is teaching. I have had the opportunity to teach a variety of topics in the field of computer science, from introductory courses to advanced courses, and I have seen a pattern throughout the students that has been puzzling to me, especially in higher grade classes.

One of the main surprising facts I have observed is that most students have little or no hands-on experience in software development, especially in upper-division classes. That is, they haven’t been given enough opportunity to do hands-on projects to improve and hone their programming skills in lower-division classes, and when they take courses like Software Engineering, most of them don’t have the ability to create a fully functional system from the ground up.

Now I can understand if this is the student’s first year and they are just starting out and getting to know their first computer language and all the tools and environments available to them. And it is also understandable that there are different levels of students with different levels of skills and motivation. But being in an upper division course and still being uncomfortable with the basics scares me a little.

What I have also noticed and honestly surprised me is that most students entering the computer science curriculum have no idea what computer science is. Now maybe that’s an unfair statement, you could argue that they’re still unsure or undecided, but I don’t think that’s the case. If you are on a science or engineering curriculum, there are certain things that are fundamental to the student, as a good foundation is maths and physics.

Once again, perhaps, the question is how we prepare our youth in their first years of life.

For example, as part of the computer science curriculum, students must take a software engineering course. I won’t go into what software engineering is, but to illustrate, here’s a description from Wikipedia: Software Engineering (SE) is the application of a systematic, disciplined, and quantifiable approach to design , software development, operation and maintenance, and the study of these approaches; that is, the application of engineering to software. The term software engineering first appeared at the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference and was intended to provoke thought about the perceived “software crisis” at the time. Software development, a widely used and more generic term, does not necessarily subsume the engineering paradigm.

In this class, students are expected to have a good understanding of at least one programming language such as JAVA, C#, C++, etc… as well as a good understanding of object oriented methodology and design. In addition to programming skills, the student must have a good understanding of data structures and algorithms. Don’t forget, a program = Data Structures + Algorithms! It would also be helpful for students to have knowledge of databases etc.

These are just some of the technical skills they should have and are fine-tuned every day. The most important aspect of computer science has nothing to do with JAVA or C# programming or anything like that. It has to do with the ability to ANALYZE and SOLVE PROBLEMS!

In my last class, I had created six different teams of three members each. Each group was given the option to come up with their own project to design and develop throughout the course, and if they couldn’t do it, I was going to assign them a project.

The students were very good at defining their own projects. We had a good variety of projects from hospital management system to hotel management system to iPAD app for retail shopping and inventory to an android app for a simple game in 2D, a web-based learning management system and Windows-based application for creating custom MIME.

Now it was time for the real deal! Let’s start engineering our product!

Throughout the course, the students have been responsible for defining: the requirements and specifications, the design and implementation, and finally the test and launch (demo) of their software project.

What surprised me was that most of the students didn’t know where to start! Faced with a particular problem, how should one take it and dissect it into smaller parts in order to solve it in small portions and come up with the final solutions by the method of divide and conquer!

As mentioned, some teams did a very good job at each and every step, and others started off weak, then increased their efforts and effectiveness over the course. As you can see, the projects themselves are a bit complex for students and all require knowledge of good user interface design, object-oriented design, database design, and for most, some type of network communication!

Some students didn’t even have programming skills and actually didn’t really care much about investing the time to learn it! Relying mostly on his colleagues for the technical aspects of the project! Now we shouldn’t expect every person to be a guru, but they should at least show some interest and have some self-motivation to learn on their own.

Overall, most of the students in the class were very hardworking and really put a lot of time and effort into their respective projects. Most of them wanted to learn and be challenged. They just lacked the proper skills that were needed before taking this class.

There was a lot of involvement for the students in this particular class, and it made the students push themselves and move on their own and become self-starters. And that is exactly what my goal was not only in this class but in all my classes. I want my students to try harder and think bigger and explore more areas and ideas because that’s the only way they can grow and be competitive later in their careers.

I myself am learning better ways and methods of teaching and interacting with students with each passing term. I hope that students will also make the necessary effort to expand their horizons not only during class, but also outside the classroom!

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