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.
- 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 email@example.com.
Q: How do I add CSE 142/143 to my schedule? How do I change sections? Can you give me an add code?
A: Contact our course administrator, Pim Lustig (firstname.lastname@example.org), for all registration issues such as adding the course or changing sections. He will be happy to help you.
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 now been six ISBNs for our Building Java Programs textbook. Only the latest two, the 2nd and 3rd editions of the textbook, are considered acceptable. We suggest you get the 3rd edition of the book. See the Textbook page for more information.
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 -2 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.
Q: The homework in this class is very difficult and takes me a lot of time to finish. I see other students in the class who have past programming experience, and they say the programs are easy for them. Is it hopeless for me? Do I need to be one of those people to do well in this course?
A: There's a certain "tortoise and hare" phenomenon that occurs a lot in 142/143. There is a group of hotshots who come in with past experience at programming. We allow those people to go straight to 143 if they want to. But some of them stay in 142. This can worry the other students because there are people about who seem to already know all of the course material. This has the danger of potentially ruining the curve of an exam or pushing the expectations of the instructor/TAs too high.
One thing we have seen many times over the years is that actually a lot of the "hares" with past experience don't do as well as they thought they would. Certainly, some hares finish at the top of the class rankings. But some of them are sloppy and careless in their programming because they don't think they need to read the directions carefully. They very quickly finish and submit a program that solves the overall problem, but maybe they don't bother to read the homework spec to match the intended programming style. Note that we explicitly mark down students who turn in programs that use "advanced material" that has not yet been taught in class. Also a careless student is less likely to try out all of the provided test cases or perform his own testing to make sure that the program really works for all cases before turning it in.
Another thing that often happens to "hares" is that their past knowledge only carries them so far. They probably know most of CSE 142's material pretty well, but some of it toward the end (arrays and objects) they may not. And most hares haven't really seen much of the CSE 143 material at all, so their advantage is largely negated there. 143 is a more level playing field in this regard because most self-taught or hobbyist programmer types have not bothered to teach themselves the particular material that 143 covers. 143 is a place where the former tortoise may truly start to outpace the hare.
This is a very challenging course, and there are some folks in the room that can make the average student feel uneasy. But we try our best to make it so that it is possible to succeed in the course even if you have never seen this material before. And we also put lots of little pitfalls that could still trip up a person who has seen it all before. :-) It's important to focus on how you are doing and be pleased with your own accomplishments in the course, instead of trying to compare to other students. If you're learning a lot and are able to solve the assignments (even if it takes a long time) and get decent scores on them, then you are doing great so far. And the further you keep going in computer science and studying, the more this issue fades away and the more you become the expert.
Q: I have a scheduling conflict and need to miss a lecture or section 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.
You do get points for section participation and submitting the weekly problems. Section handouts will be given out only in section, so you'll have to attend if you want a copy. We don't allow students to submit the weekly problems if they aren't physically present at their section, nor to make up a missed section. But you don't need to attend every section to get the full points, so it is fine to miss a few during the quarter.
Q: I got a low score on homework and/or exams, and I'm worried about doing poorly in the course. How much impact will my past low score(s) have on my grade? What can I do?
A: You can compute for yourself the impact of your past scores on your grade. The grading weights are listed on the course syllabus.
If you want to raise your grade, the best way is to do well on future assignments and exams. We generally do not offer much extra credit nor any way to directly make up or replace low scores on past 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 traumatic incident in my life this quarter (death in the family, accident, emotional hardship, etc.) that has made it impossible to do well in CSE 142. What should I do?
A: You may want to look into UW's hardship withdrawal procedure.
Q: I don't like my grade. Why is it so low?
A: See the syllabus for information about how grades are calculated. Generally grades are actually shifted upward from the promised ranges on the syllabus, so it could be worse.
Q: I checked the web site, and my overall 142 grade is . I wish my grade was . Will you please change my grade to ?
A: I'm sorry; no. (Unless your grade is computed incorrectly for some reason.)
Q: You don't understand... I *need* to get a because . And because of , I think I deserve a even though the points I got in the course only add up to . Will you please change my grade to ?
A: See answer to previous question.
Q: My grade is not fair! I see another student who got only higher percentage than I did, and they get a ! I should get a .
A: We're sorry; the cut-off points between grades have to go somewhere. Each grade range has a highest and lowest student. Sometimes that student ends up being you. We do not choose cut-off points with a goal of including or excluding any particular student; it's just the way the numbers worked out in this particular case.
A: Unless we made some kind of mathematical or clerical mistake, your grade is what it is. We are not willing to let you somehow change it after the quarter's over by doing more work.
Q: I would like you to re-grade my final exam, my last several homeworks, my midterm, etc. etc. in the hopes of raising my grade to . How do I go about doing that?
A: We do re-grade final exams, and you can ask for a re-evaluation of a homework assignment within 2 weeks of the date you got back your score on it. But you should do this only if you genuinely think something specific was mis-graded. If you submit for a regrade saying things like, "I am asking for a regrade because I really need a 2.0," or, "I just want to see if I can get any more points back," you are not likely to be considered very seriously. Frivolous regrade requests do not lead to a happy regrader. Recall that regrades have the capability to -lower- your score if any missed deductions are discovered.
Q: Why didn't I pass the course? I turned in most/all of the homework, I took both exams, and I showed up to class most of the time. Shouldn't that be enough to pass?
A: Passing the course is based on getting an overall percentage above some threshold that is set each quarter, generally in the low 50s. If you do not attain that percentage, you do not pass the course, even if you did come to class and did submit the assignments. Our grades are not given solely based on attendance or participation.
Q: Can I meet with you in person to discuss my grade? This is very important.
A: Sure, you can! Next quarter, when we're back in our office. Until then, it's email. If something is wrong with your grade, we'll fix it. But meeting with us in person and telling us a sad story, bargaining, begging, etc. does not lead to us raising your grade.
Q: But if this waits until next quarter, it'll be too late! The grade will already be submitted.
A: That is true. Grades can be changed after submission, if necessary. If something is wrong, we will get it fixed. But we do not come in to campus during the between-quarter break just to meet with students who are upset about their grades. We will have to resolve the matter by email or by a meeting during the next quarter.
Expectations For Credit:
In order to receive credit for lab, you must receive 14 lab points. There will be 9 labs, each worth 2 points. Non-lab related activities (ie. email, facebook, YouTube) will result in a -1 for the day.
Lateness Policy: If you are more than 10 minutes late to lab, -1. If you 20 or more minutes late to lab, -2.
For more information, see FAQ.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about lab sessions:
CSE 190 is an optional 1-credit lab for 142 students who want extra practice on course material. If you sign up for the 190 lab, every Tuesday you will go to a computer lab and work on CSE 142 problems at a computer for 50 minutes. 190 will be a way for students to get extra practice and become more comfortable with 142's material, to help them do better on the homeworks and exams and generally perform well in CSE 142.
There is no "homework" from 190, and it is graded strictly as CR/NC pass/fail. You get credit by showing up and working on the problems. TAs from our course will be there helping everyone and answering questions. It will be a relaxed atmosphere open to asking questions, working together, etc.
The labs take place on Tuesdays at various times. Below is the link to the University time schedule with more info about the times/places. Our sessions are CSE 190 sections "G" through "Q".
There will be no lab section on Tuesday, Jan 3rd. The first lab wlll meet the following week on Tuesday, Jan 10th.
- Q: How do I enroll in the lab?
- A: You can enroll online through the usual UW electronic systems. If the lab is full and you want to ask about getting on a waiting list, contact our course coordinator, Pim Lustig, at pl. We may not have space for everyone depending on the demand.
- Q: Can I please add the lab to my UW schedule, even though I have a course conflict that would cause me to miss the first/last 20 minutes of it?
- A: Sorry, no. We can't add you to the lab or give you credit for it if you have another course at the same time, even if it's only a partial conflict.
- Q: Can I just come and sit in on the lab, even if I'm not registered for it?
- A: Yes, if there is a free seat available. If a particular lab session is already full, there may not be any seats, but you are welcome to show up and check. You might be able to work along if you brought your own laptop.
- Q: If I'm not enrolled in the lab, can I work on the lab exercises on my own at home?
- A: Yes, certainly. We won't grade your work, but you can look at the problems and try to solve them on your own.
- Q: Do I have to finish all of the lab exercises?
- A: No. Just work on as many problems as you can finish during the lab session.
- Q: Can I bring my own laptop to the lab sessions?
- A: Yes, certainly. Though if you have a problem setting up your laptop, we can't promise that we'll be able to help you. You might have to fall back to using a lab machine if you can't get yours to work.
- Q: Can I still get credit for the lab, even if I drop CSE 142 (or am not enrolled in CSE 142 this quarter)?
- A: No. Students who are enrolled in the lab but are not enrolled in CSE 142 at the end of the quarter will be given a grade of "NC" (no credit) for the lab.
- Q: Can I work on my weekly homework assignment during lab time?
- A: No. Lab time is for working on the lab. Using lab time to work on 142 homework (or any other non-lab activity) will result in losing lab attendance points for the week.