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Name:  Jmitchel
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993

I am interested in hearing from professionals in the field about what you think is important for students in their pursuit of learning computer programming. I teach Pascal to level I and level II (A and AB) students in Virginia. Students are always asking about 1) Documentation, 2) How much structure is necessary, and 3) Why should we avoid global variables in our programs, among other things. Also, do you have any good ideas for project- type programs? We are moving towards case studies in our teaching and I do not have much to go on in this area.

The 3 issues you mention depend STRONGLY on who is going to use the code you write. If you are going to be the only user and you are only going to use the program for a while, then why not be quick and dirty. Do not document, do not use structure, and make everything a global! BUT, if you are writing code for someone else to use, especially if someone else needs to understand the code, or if you are writing it for yourself and it is something you will be using and maybe modifying for a long time, THEN document. Use structured programming to enhance the code's readability and maintainability, and, as far as globals go, encapsulated data is one of the buzz terms from object-oriented programming. For small software projects, I do not think it matters much as long as you do not run out of memory.

John Hawley

Regarding project type of programming, how about getting together with some of the science teachers there and arranging at least an optional experiment that requires programming, or a program that simulates some experiment. Computers are certainly used more in science than anywhere else.

Arthur Smith

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