I have now gained a bit more teaching experience from being a lab assistant in a programming course and this is what I have learned:
- There were students who had a hard time understanding the description of the assignment. The students got frustrated before they could even start coding because they thought that the assignments were not clear enough.
- Because of the students’ lack of experience, it was easy for them to get stuck on a (seemingly simple) problem for a long time. One of the common problems that would not make the code work as planned is indentation.
- The display of different emotions in a programming lab is fascinating. It is always nice to hear the student cheering and high-fiving each other when they have managed to solve a programming problem. Seems to me like programming causes strong positive and negative emotions. This is probably because programming is difficult and it requires a lot of grit and effort to learn and understand programming.
- There were quite some misunderstanding about the role of “import” – the students didn’t understand why it was necessary to use e.g. “import os”, and they didn’t understand what “os” stands for.
- Lastly, I have noticed that it is hard to really understand local vs global variable when the names of the local and global variables are the same. This in combination with e.g. omitting return and/or print. I have experienced that it is easy for the students to forget that there must be a return value from a function, which is understandable as it is not exactly “natural” or could be easily associated with anything else they have done before.