Episode 9 - Restructuring CS50
CS50 Podcast
Fri, January 31, 2020
Podchat Summary

CS50 Course Changes in Fall 2019

In this episode, David and Brian dive into the changes made to the CS50 course during the fall semester of 2019. They explore the various modifications that were implemented to enhance the learning experience for students.

Required Attendance and Barcode Scanners

One significant change was the introduction of mandatory attendance at lectures. David and Brian discuss how this decision aimed to improve student engagement and preparation for sections and problem sets. They also explain the new system for taking attendance using barcode scanners, which streamlined the process and ensured accurate records.

Super Sections and Weekly Quizzes

The hosts highlight the introduction of super sections, which were smaller and more interactive sessions. These sections provided students with the opportunity to ask questions and receive additional examples related to the lecture material. Additionally, they discuss the implementation of weekly quizzes, which incentivized preparation and offered extra practice before problem sets.

Tutorials and Design Feedback

Another change discussed in the episode is the introduction of tutorials. These one-on-one office hours by appointment aimed to provide personalized help to students. However, the hosts also address the challenges of managing the demand for tutorials and implementing code reviews effectively. They mention the decision to eliminate design feedback from students' scores due to the time and operational cost of providing feedback that was not always utilized.

Introduction of Tracks

The episode concludes with a discussion on the introduction of tracks. This change allowed students to choose between web programming, mobile app development (iOS or Android), or game development for the final two weeks of the course. David and Brian explore the benefits and outcomes of this new approach.

Throughout the episode, the hosts reflect on the successes and challenges of these changes. They highlight the positive impact of required attendance at lectures on student engagement, while also acknowledging the difficulties faced in managing code reviews and tutorial demand. They emphasize the importance of ongoing evaluation and improvement in future iterations of the course.

Original Show Notes
In this episode, a discussion of CS50's underlying pedagogy. David and Brian discuss changes made to CS50 at Harvard in Fall 2019, among them new-and-improved lectures, weekly quizzes, by-appointment tutorials, a choice of end-of-term "tracks" for students, and lots of new problem sets. Hear the reasons behind those changes as well as what worked well and what didn't. The CS50 Podcast is hosted by CS50's own David J. Malan and Brian Yu at Harvard University. Each episode focuses on (and explains!) current events and news in tech and computer science more generally. This is the CS50 Podcast. Follow us on other social media to get news on upcoming shows and more: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cs50 Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/cs50 Twitter: https://twitter.com/cs50 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cs50 Twitch: https://twitch.tv/cs50tv
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