Fundamentals of Computer Science 1 (CS151 2003S)

SamR's Answers to the Introductory Survey (2003S)

As I start each class, I like to learn a little bit about my students and their expectations for the course so that I can both know and teach them better. Since I'm asking you to prepare answers to this survey, it is only fair that I prepare my own. This document provides a hybrid set of answers to all (most?) of my surveys this semester.

Samuel A. SamR Rebelsky
Undergraduate: Mathematics
Graduate: Computer Science
Where are you from?
I was born in Newton, MA, a suburb of Boston. Since then, I've lived in Chicago (11 years), New Hampshire and Maine (4 years), and Iowa (over 5 years).
Tell me a little bit about your background with computers.
Hmmm ... I may be too old to remember. We had an Apple ][ when I was in high school. When I got to college, I quickly became enamored of using the school's computers (a DEC-20 running Tops-20 and an Amdahl running MVS) and ended up as a computing assistant (like Grinnell's UC's). Since that time, I've gone on to take and teach too many courses in computer science. These days, I like to work on Macintoshes and Unix (and Linux) boxes. I've never become comfortable with Microsoft Windows. And even after all that background, I still get frustrated with these things.
What courses are you taking this term? Please include meeting times. I prefer course names to course abbreviations.
During Spring 2003, I'm teaching CSC151, Fundamentals of Computer Science I (MTuWF 2:15-3:05), CSC153, Computer Science Fundamentals (MTuWF 10:00-10:50), and CSC195, Behind the Curtain, A Special Topics Course (MTuWF 3:15-4:05). I'm supervising a group MAP project to computerize the Grinnell Room Draw, a MAP project to build glossaries for Web sites, and an independent study on Internet censorship. If that wasn't enough, I'm also trying to sit in on Tom Moore' Math 209, Statistics, course. You can consult my schedule for more information.
What other CS courses (or related courses) have you taken?
Too many to list. At Grinnell, I've taught Tutorial (Hypertext: Some Technology, Some Implications), CSC103 (Programming and Problem Solving), CSC105 (An Algorithmic and Social Overview of Computing), CSC151 (Fundamentals of Computer Science I), CSC152 (Fundamentals of Computer Science II), CSC223 (Software Design), CSC302 (Programming Language Concepts), CSC362 (Compilers), and CSC364 (Computer Networks). I've also taught a number of independent studies at Grinnell. You can view a list of all the courses I've taught at Grinnell.
What, if any, computer languages do you know?
Too many to enumerate. I once tried to list the languages I know with a C-like syntax. They include: K&R C, ANSI C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Perl, and the C Shell. (Switching between them is thrilling, since they often differ in key aspects, such as valid commenting style.) My preferred language varies from month to month. At one time, I did a lot of programming in Haskell and Scheme. These days, I'm doing a lot of programming in Java and Perl. This semester, I'm teaching Java, C , Scheme, and some simple assembly language as parts of courses.
Why are you taking this course?
I teach CS151 because (1) I enjoy teaching; (2) I value the chance to meet prospective CS majors early in their careers; and (3) I like meeting teaching both majors and nonmajors and CS151 usually provides a nice mix.
I teach CS153 because (1) I enjoy teaching; (2) CS151 and CS152 are two of my favorite courses to teach, and CS153 combines those two; (3) cramming two semesters of work into one semester sounds like a fun challenge.
I teach CS195 because (1) I enjoy teaching; (2) I miss programming in C; (3) I thought I should try teaching our newest course as we consider making it part of the major.
What do you expect to learn or gain from this course?
New perspectives (every group of students provides some new perspectives).
What are your biggest concerns for this course?
That I'll be overwhelmed by the time constraints.
What is your favorite or most productive time to study?
In college and grad school, I found mornings good times. Now that I have three children, I'm not sure that I have productive times.
What do you like most about Grinnell?
The small, relatively informal, atmosphere.
What do you like least about Grinnell (or what do you dislike most about Grinnell)?
The isolation. When I have free time (not too often), I like to rummage through used book stores and the cheapo bins at record stores. While we have a used book store, I miss the cheapo bins. (And no, the Internet is not the same, although I'm finding the used book services addicting.) Des Moines and Iowa City are too far away for quick browsing trips.
What is the best course you have taken at Grinnell so far? Who taught that course? What made it good? (Although I have tenure, I'm always trying to find out what makes a course or teacher stand out.) If you haven't taken any courses at Grinnell, tell me about your best high school course.
Believe it or not, but I've enjoyed teaching most of the courses I've taught at Grinnell. It's hard to choose a favorite. In most of them, I've had enthusiastic and intelligent students who were also generally nice people. I love CS, so I find most of the topics interesting (although I have some preferences for introductory courses).
My wife was once told that most teachers teach like someone they learned from. After thinking about it for awhile, I realized that I base many things I do on Paul Salley of the University of Chicago, from whom I took Math 207-209. Gerald Mast at the UofC may have been my favorite other teacher there. I also learned a lot about teaching from Don Crabb and Stu Kurtz, both of the computer science department.
Most surveys like this ask you to list your five favorite books, movies, TV shows, CDs, chia animals, buildings on campus, professors, or whatever. I'll give you a little more freedom. Pick a class of objects (it can be one that I listed, it can be one that I didn't list), and list your five favorite objects in that class.
Top Five Ways to Spend Time
1. Doing whatever with my wife (Michelle) and children, William (7), Jonathan (4), and Daniel (1).
2. Reading. These days, I tend to read modern fantasy and a variety of types of nonfiction.
3. Cataloging my record collection (much too large).
4. My research projects, which seem to be endless time sinks.
5. Preparing for my courses (yes, it's a time sink; it's also one that I enjoy).
6. Playing cards. (Okay, I can't count.)
Tell me a little more about yourself. You might describe hobbies, interests, goals, whatever.
I'm 38. My wife, Michelle, and I have been married for fifteen years. We have three children, William, Jonathan, and Daniel. Once in a while, they visit class.
I may be one of the least organized people you ever meet. Take a look at my office later this semester, and you'll understand what I mean.
I love teaching (and also very much enjoy doing research on hypermedia systems) and have found Grinnell a great place to be. My long-term goal is to be at Grinnell.
I've been known to wear a full-body Tigger costume on Halloween.
What other questions should I have asked on this form? (You don't have to come up with any; I just like to find ways to improve my introductory questionnaire.)
If I could think of other questions, I would have added them.
Since I'm asking you all of these questions, it's only fair that you get to ask me some questions. What, if anything, would you like to know about me?
Why do I bother filling out these sample answers? Does anyone read them?



Thursday, 24 August 2000 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Monday, 10 January 2001 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Tuesday, 7 January 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky,