CITS2002 Systems Programming  

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Working effectively

Look after yourself!

Working effectively in CITS2002

The UNIVERSITY CHARTER OF STUDENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES discusses a student's Quality of Education, and states that "Every student has the responsibility to bring an open and enquiring mind and enthusiasm to their studies (4.1.1), and to participate actively in the teaching and learning and research environment, in particular by attending classes as required, complying with workload expectations, and submitting required work on time (4.1.2)."

The School of Physics, Mathematics, and Computing, in which CITS2002 is delivered, has an expected workload for an average student in a 6-point unit of 10-12 hours per week, averaged over the whole semester. This page outlines some methods by which you can study more effectively in this unit, and do so within the workload expectation.

  • Allocate times of your weekly workload
    How to allocate your weekly workload in CITS2002? This will clearly depend on your abilities, study habits, and the weekly requirements of the unit, but a typical week could consist of:
    • 3 hours - attending and being engaged in the lectures and tutorial.
      Follow the presentation, make your own clear annotations, and ask questions when something is unclear.
    • 3 hours - pre-read, then review lecture and tutorial material, with constant reference to a recommended textbook or a good online tutorial.
      Review the lecture material and notes that you've taken during the lecture. The lectures themselves do not provide the whole content of the unit. Some students mistakenly believe that rote-learning of lecture handouts is sufficient. The lectures only identify the important concepts for the unit, and you are expected to investigate further. If it is unclear what the important concepts of any lecture were - ask.
    • 4 hours - laboratory and project work.
      Having reviewed the relevant fundamental concepts introduced in a lecture, the laboratory and project work is much easier. Prepare for your laboratory sessions by reading the labsheet before attempting set tasks, identify the concepts that you do not understand, look up those concepts in a textbook or online tutorial (see Resources), arrive with questions for the laboratory demonstrators. The laboratory sessions should be times when you put your knowledge into practice by attempting set tasks. Laboratory sessions should not be times when you meet a fundamental concept for the first time. Much of the effort required to complete laboratory tasks and projects can be achieved away from the laboratory and even without a computer.

  • Read the help2002 forum
    help2002 not only provides facility for you to ask questions about lectures, labsheets, and projects, but allows you to view the questions and replies of other students. It is very likely that other students in the unit will be having, or have already solved, similar problems to the ones you're experiencing. Read other help2002 articles before posting a question; search for keywords relating to your problem.

    help2002 is also used to make official announcements about CITS2002. These appear in yellow at the top of the main page.

    Read the help2002 forum at least twice a week. Login to help2002 (via the link in its top-right-hand corner) and any new articles that you have not read will be clearly identified.

    Similarly, use chapter0 to provide quick access to the homepage, help forum, timetable, outline, handbook entry, and next item of assessment in all of your CSSE units.

  • Read your UWA email
    Email is an official communication mechanism at UWA. Official announcements concerning CITS2002 projects and assessment deadlines are emailed to your UWA email account. If you have your UWA email redirected to an external mailbox, such as to gmail or to your ISP, ensure that it is not to an inactive account or one that you access infrequently.

  • Read a recommended textbook or online book/tutorial
    Do not mistakenly believe that any lecture handouts comprise the unit's complete material. Lectures comprise about of the unit's material. Lectures identify fundamental concepts; textbooks more thoroughly explain those concepts, and provide examples of their use. Learn how to use the table of contents and index of your textbook.

  • Do not sit in front a computer for long periods
    Solutions to laboratory tasks and projects will not magically jump out of the screen. If having difficulty with a task, print out your code, visit a coffee shop or a comfortable lawn, and think about the problem in an environment where you're able to focus on the bigger problem, rather than just fixing a small bug. You'll often find that you not only fix the current bug but, by thinking about the whole task, you often think through problems that you haven't got to yet!

  • Complement your programming with a pencil and paper
    Invest in a spiral bound notebook that you can carry in your backpack. Use it to both solve your problems, and as a log of past problems and their solutions. So much of Computer Science and Software Engineering is "just boxes and arrows", and drawing many pictures can assist greatly in the design and debugging of many programming problems. Print out (short) sections of significant code and stick them in your notebook. Review your notebook weekly.

  • Be aware of assessment deadlines in all of your units
    Don't let assessment deadlines sneak up on you. All UWA units are required to provide to students clear statements about the assessment methods and deadlines for their units within the first 2 weeks of semester. CSSE clearly lists all of its assessment deadlines using the cssubmit program. Try to plan your weeks, accounting for periods where more than one project or assignment will be due in the same week. Many units have mid-semester tests and their first small projects due around weeks 7 and 8 of semester, and most units have their large programming project due in week 11 or 12 of semester.

Hope these points help,

Chris McDonald.

The University of Western Australia

Computer Science and Software Engineering

CRICOS Code: 00126G
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