John | Apr 23, 2020 | 0
Computer Science I
There is a separation of concepts and programming language syntax. The first part of this book uses pseudocode with a minimum of language-specific elements. Subsequent parts of the book recapitulate these concepts but in the context of a specific programming language. This allows for a ‘plug-in’ style approach to Computer Science: the same book could theoretically be used for multiple courses or the book could be extended by adding another part for a new language with minimal effort.
Another inspiration for the structure of this book is the Computer Science I Honors course that I developed. Usually Computer Science majors take CS1 using Java as the primary language while CE students take CS1 using C. Since the honors course consists of both majors (as well as some of the top students), I developed the Honors version to cover both languages at the same time in parallel. This has led to many interesting teaching moments: by covering two languages, it provides opportunities to highlight fundamental differences and concepts in programming languages.
It also keeps concepts as the focus of the course emphasizing that syntax and idiosyncrasies of individual languages are only of secondary concern. Finally, actively using multiple languages in the first class provides a better opportunity to extend knowledge to other programming languages’once a student has a solid foundation in one language learning a new one should be relatively easy.