Dear 254 Students,

A while ago I conducted a mini-survey in which a selected group of students were sent an email survey to provide feedback on this subject. Below are a list of questions I posted and also the replies given by the students. Hope this will be useful in some ways to all of us and also the lecturer, in terms of keeping what's god at the moment and also improving this course. I am sure with cooperation, we can provide a good study environment and also course content to future students.

1) How do you find the lecture pace?

Generally, most students find that the course pace is okay, in another words: Neither slow or fast. There are a few “exceptions” where some students think it's too slow and the contents' repeated itself in certain occasions.

2) How relevant do you find the projects are related to this course?

95% of the surveyors thought that both projects are relevant to this course and the fact that the incorporation of real life projects made this course even more interesting and realistic.

3) Is the project hard?

95% of the surveyors thought that the projects weren't hard, with a few exceptions who thought the project was easy.

4) Are you satisfied with the content of this subject? If no, please state reason.

Most students are satisfied with the content of this subject.

5) Are the lecturers efficient in handling the course material?

A number of percentage of students think that Raj has put too much effort into redesigning this course and the fact that there were no lecture notes made it a bit hard for some students in this course as they always have to print out the lecture slides. However, this was resolved in an increase of print quotas for all of us. Also, a student mentioned that Raj should have concentrated more on teaching instead of redesigning this course. I have discussed this with Raj personally in the student rep meeting regarding this issue and here is his reply.

[ Raj's reply to this: As you all know I had to create most presentation slides fresh myself, write programs, compile them, show then in action from the classroom, and also align the flow material to the book, so I was unable to provide subject notes via the bookroom / bookshop. To some extent I have resolved printing problem by getting printing quota increased. In addition,  I have been printing/printed week 10 to week 12 lectures and supplied/supplying you hard copy. 

In addition, the new material incorporates feedback that I have collected by consulting a number of senior students who have studied 254 in the past and now working in industry. I have also introduced a number of topics (such as graphics, applets, event driven programming, sockets, threads) that are taught for the first time in this course. Again, your feedback is appreciate and they will be incorporated in future teachings. Thank you.]

But generally, 80% of the students who took the survey were happy with the efficiency.

6) As you all may know, Raj is redesigning this course. I spoke to a previous 254 lecturer and judging from what that lecturer told me,,,all Raj has done so far is putting a lot more emphasis than this lecturer did in Java, and less emphasis in UML. Do you guys think this redesign is good / bad for us --> future students?

Some students wondered why Raj hasn't gone about teaching software design before giving out the projects. A nice portion of the surveyors thought that the emphasis wasn't well balanced. 

As to suggestions, many students thought it would be best if UML could be integrated or taught alongside Java. 

Here is Raj's reply to this issue.

[ Raj's reply to this:Please note that I have NOT reduced the UML content, but infact added more to the earlier content. Of course, I did dedicated more time to OOP and Java compared to UML. I also agree with students that it would be best if UML could be integrated or taught alongside Java. Actually, I have tried a lot to find a book that  that covers material in this style, but no luck. I consulted many publishers and collected over 15 books. All those books either teach Java or UML, but not together. Some say that UML for Java programmers, but they assume that students are familiar with Java. I have also consulted senior professors in the department for their suggestions. Finally, conclusion was that: as our 254 course is unique and it is hard to find a book that integrates all things that we want to teach, we recommend that our lecturers write a book that does this job. Therefore, Shanika and I have planned to work on it  next semester (our own book) and possibly test it in Semester 1, 2004 and have it formally published and recommend it for future semesters. Having said that, while redesigning and teaching the course this semester, I have tried to use UML notations as much as possible while explaining OOP concepts with Java.Of course, there is always room for improvement and I will do that since course material is getting stabilized. Thanks for being part of change and I appreciate that.] 

However, I found this reply from an student rather interesting so I decided to put it here:

- I think UML is more important than java itself, as language evolve it's more important that focus on the UML, rather than the java, as OO can be apply to many programming language

[ Raj's reply to this: 1. Both OOD/UML and OOP/Java are important--they are like two sides of coin. In addition, you are learning OOP paradigm for the first time, it is important that OOP is taught in depth and put it in practice using Java language. Also as I mentioned earlier, I have NOT reduced the UML content. We are covering key aspects of UML in depth. The 254 follow up courses such as 341:Software Engineering Process & Practice will teaching more on software design using UML.
2. Some of you wanted to implement Project B using Java GUI, so to accommodate that I had to teach Graphics programming in Java in Week 8. Otherwise, I was planning to teach UML one week earlier i.e., in week 8 and and finish in week 9. But we got delayed by a week and therefore I have compensated that by extending the project submission deadline to the end of week 11. Of course, there is a room for improvement, your feedback is well appreciated and I will incorporate them in my future teachings. Thank you.]

7) Any suggestions to make this a better course.

I have some interesting replies for this, to which Raj agreed with them.

a) Better textbook, the current textbook is too briefed and is only well suited for the average programmer or newbie programmer who seeked to learn Java the fast and quick way without having to flip through 400 pages of Java content.

b) More examples provided during the lecture will help us learning effectively.

c) Small lab classes, better tutorial questions.

That's all for the survey. Thanks for reading this far. I hope this helps provide some sort of student feedback to all of you who's interested in the minds of other students with regards to this subject.

Sincerely yours,

254 Student Rep

Loke Jun Yi.