Advice for Learning Computer Science

Take a Growth MindSet

Computer science proficiency comes with experience and experience takes time.  To develop expertise in anything requires around 10,000 hours.  People are not born being computer scientists, they acquire the relevant knowledge and skills through experience.  You, too, can become a computer scientist!

Attend Class

Successful students attend class regularly!  This should be your number one academic priority.

Talk to Your Instructor or Teaching Assistant

Your instructor has office hours every week.  These times are set aside for the purpose of answering questions from students - take advantage of this opportunity.  If the office hours are not compatible with your schedule, ask to make an appointment.  You can always e-mail, too.

Utilize the Computer Science Tutoring Center

Free drop-in tutoring is available in EPS 259 for students taking lower division Computer Science courses.  Tutoring Center Website.

Know the Course Website

Each course has a website that contains information about course expectations, grading schemes, opportunities for help, exam dates and other helpful information.

Work with Other Students

You are encouraged to form study groups and/or ask questions of your peers.  Collaborating with peers is a great way to be accountable and to keep up with the material.  It's also how we work in industry.

Utilize SmartyCats

Private tutoring is provided by undergraduate students for a small fee.  This is an MSU resource that is provided for many courses.  SmartyCats Website.

Advice for Teaching and Tutoring CS

Communicate Effectively

Be a good listener.  Use understandable language and terminology.  Check that the learner understands what you are saying.

Be Supportive

A supportive environment reduces stress and can make learning fun.  Do not be critical.

Be Trustworthy

A stable mentoring relationship requires that you and the learner trust one another.

Be Empathetic

Put yourself in the shoes of the learner.

Encourage Independence

When appropriate, show the learner how to find answers to their questions.  If you don't know the answer to a question, show the learner how you would go about finding the answer.

Be Enthusiastic

High energy demonstrates that the material is fun and that learning obstacles can be overcome.

Be Flexible

Allow the learner to solve problems in his or her own way.  It's OK to struggle with difficult concepts; learning is enhanced when the learner solves the problem independently.

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