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CSE 143: Computer Programming II, Winter 2009

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CSE 142/143 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: I have some prior programming experience, but I am not sure whether it's enough. Should I be in CSE 142 or 143?

A: You might be ready for CSE 143 if you know about the following topics in Java or a similar language:

  • basic programming: variables, parameters, loops, if/else, etc.
  • arrays
  • reading data from files
  • defining classes and objects

To help you decide, look at past quarters' CSE 142 and CSE 143 web sites. Look at the old 142 page's midterm and final exam. Would you do well on them? Look at CSE 143's first one or two assignments. Do they look fairly doable with your current experience?

If you feel confident after this investigation, you should consider taking CSE 143. If you're still not sure, you can email further questions to the instructor or contact our helpful academic advisors at ugrad-advisor@cs.washington.edu.

Q: I need help with my homework! What should I do?

A: There are lots of resources available to help you. For example:

  • There is probably someone in the IPL today, or maybe the instructor has office hours. If so, go see them.
  • Check the message board; your question may have been answered there.
  • Read the relevant chapters and sections of the textbook, especially the large "Case Study" example at the end of the relevant chapter. The case study programs are larger examples, created step-by-step, that bear a lot of similarity to each assignment.
  • Look at the in-class lecture examples and slides.
  • Look at this week's section handout problems and their solutions.
  • Try solving some smaller problems first to understand the relevant concepts, such as the ones at the ends of the textbook chapters or in the Practice-It! tool.
  • Send us a message on AIM, if available. (AIM is better for small questions; anything that involves looking at code is better done by email.)
  • Start early! We get swamped the day assignments are due.
  • Don't panic. You have late days, and even if you run out, it is only -1 point for each day late.

Q: The IPL and other resources are not enough! I need more help, such as a personal tutor. Can I get this kind of help?

A: In general, no. We in CSE do not provide individual private tutoring; there are too many students and not enough resources. We also feel that you must demonstrate your own ability and not be walked through substantial parts of the course by a private tutor. We also do not permit you to be regularly tutored "on the side" by your CSE 142/143 TA, whether or not the TA is being paid to do so.

There are some other services on campus do provide limited individual tutoring to certain students. You may want to check out links such as the following:

Q: The course (or the section I want) appears to be full. How do I add CSE 142/143 to my schedule? How do I change sections?

A: Contact our course administrator, Pim Lustig (pl@cs.washington.edu), for all registration issues such as adding the course or changing sections. He will be happy to help you.

Q: What is the difference in the section labeled "prior programming experience"?

A: It's not all that much different than the other CSE 142/143 sections. Students in that section do the same practice problems as every other section. But the TA for that section generally assumes that the students are somewhat advanced, so they may cover the concepts and problems at a faster pace, or they may finish more problems than other sections.

When we see the students who want to take the course but have a fair amount of prior programming experence, so they seem like they might be bored in the class, we recommend that they consider that section. But it's not urgently important that they join that particular section, since it's probably only about 10% different from the others at most. Being in it certainly doesn't give the student any special mark or "honors" credit or anything like that.

Q: I have a scheduling conflict and need to miss a lecture on a particular day. Is this okay? How can I find out what I missed?

A: Lecture attendance is optional, so you may miss a lecture without penalty (so long as no exam takes place on that day). To find out what you missed, look at the Lectures section of the course web site. All slides and program code from lecture will be posted there.

Q: I got a low score on homework and/or exams, and I'm worried about doing poorly in the course. What can I do?

A: We generally do not offer any extra credit nor any way to directly make up for low scores on past assignments. You might be able to raise your grade by doing well on future assignments or exams. Don't forget that the final exam usually has a higher weight than the midterm, so there are still plenty of points left to be earned. Consult the grade formulas on the syllabus to figure out whether your desired grade is still attainable.

If you don't think you will be able to raise your grade enough, you may need to consider dropping the course or switching to a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) option. See UW's Grading System web page for more information about grades, S/NS, and other options.

Q: When is the last date to drop the course? When is the last date to switch to Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS)?

A: This information can be found at the UW Academic Calendar for this year.

Q: I have had a distressing personal event that has significantly worsened my physical or mental health this quarter. It has hindered me from doing well in CSE 142. It is past the drop date. What can I do?

A: You may want to read about UW's Hardship Withdrawal Policy.

Q: I'd like to buy a used textbook, and I found one online, but it has a different ISBN. Is that still the right textbook? Is it okay to buy that textbook anyway?

A: There have been four ISBNs for our Building Java Programs textbook. Two of these are considered acceptable / recommended, and two are not:

  • ISBN 0536240167: 1st edition of the textbook, with an access key to our online video resources (the videos cover CSE 142 material from Chapters 1-8). Highly recommended.
  • ISBN 0321382838: 1st edition of the textbook. No access key provided. Highly recommended.
  • ISBN 0321500024, 0536336555: Prior "Custom" editions of the textbook. These were partially completed versions of the book that were used only at UW while the book was being written. These versions of the book are missing major sections, contain fewer practice problems, and the section numbers don't match up with the real 1st edition, so it may be harder for you to figure out which section corresponds to the assigned reading given in class. Not recommended.

Q: It's the end of the quarter. My grade is (grade). I wish my grade was (higher grade). Will you please change my grade to (higher grade)?

A: I'm sorry; no. (Unless your grade is computed incorrectly for some reason.)

Q: You don't understand. I *need* to get a (higher grade) because (reason). And because of (not very convincing reason), I think I deserve a (higher grade) even though the points I got in the course only add up to (lower grade). Will you please change my grade to (higher grade)?

A: See answer to previous question.