Python MediaComp book is #2 in CS1

April 22, 2011 at 8:10 am 4 comments

I just got a report from my publisher who told me that I can share these stats.  Our Python Media Computation book is now #2 in sales in the US among Python CS1 books — Zelle’s book is number one.  The Python CS1 market grew 36% this last year (down from over 40% the previous two years).  I know Greg Wilson was wondering, and they told me that I can report the number this year: The size of the market is around 24,000 sales.

I wonder if that number is actually wrong for our book.  I bet that most schools using our Python book are not using it for a traditional CS1 (i.e., introductory course for students entering the CS major), but for a CS0.5 or a non-majors course.  But I don’t think that the publishers have a category for that.  So those CS1 numbers might be inflated, covering these other cases as well.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

Computer science enrollments rebound, up 10% last fall – Computerworld Supporting Creativity but maybe not Creation

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  April 22, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I think you are right that most Python teaching is happening at a level below the traditional CS 1. I know that the first programming course for biologists is now using Python (previously they used Perl and BioPerl). The level is far below CS 1—about the 0.5 you mentioned. The CS department also teaches a Python class which can be taken before CS 1 (their version of CS 1 in Java assumes some programming experience, without any explicit prereqs).

    I’ve also been teaching Python to seniors and grad students in bioinformatics, who are supposed to already have had 3 CS classes in programming, so Python is also being taught well above the CS1 level. (Surprisingly few of the seniors can actually program—the three programming classes they’ve taken don’t seem to have gotten them much beyond Java syntax and random flailing at algorithms. I blame this on too much scaffolding—they’ve only ever done low-level coding of data structures or algorithms that they have been handed, no real design.)

    For people who are already programming, the “Python in a Nutshell” book and the on-line Python documentation seem to be better than other texts or references. I’d welcome pointers to other sources that I should point students to.

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  April 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      Too much scaffolding, or too little teaching? The scaffolding may have been necessary for what the students learned, but it sounds like students weren’t taught design. Students don’t usually learn what isn’t taught.

      • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  April 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

        Both too much scaffolding and too little teaching. Their Advanced Programming class (3rd programming class) continued a style only suitable for a first programming class, in which they were given template programs to which they had to add routines. (So only coding, no design.) Actually, they were taught a lot about coding, but nothing about design.

  • 4. Bonnie MacKellar  |  April 25, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I teach software engineering and see the same problem. The students, who are mostly seniors, really can’t program at all. I now give them a pretest. The results are depressing. After 4 semesters of programming, over half cannot write a program that loops through an array to do some kind of processing (total, or average or finding the max). Scaffolding is definitely a problem, but even more importantly, I think many of them survived their programming classes by sheer memorization


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