Throughout the history of CPSC 110 at UBC, there have been quite a number of students who do manage to pull a grade of over 90% in the course, but at the same time, not a few ended up failing it.
First of all, this blog post is not intended to scare people away from taking CPSC 110.
But I do call for heavy consideration and preparation BEFORE taking the course, especially, ESPECIALLY, if you do not have experience with any programming languages.
What is CPSC 110 about?
If you haven't taken CPSC 110 before, you might be wondering what it's about. Essentially, it's a programming course in which you would have to deal with DrRacket. It is a pretty important course that you would have to take in order since it is a(n) (in)direct prerequisite to enrol in several higher-level Computer Science courses at UBC (e.g. CPSC 210, CPSC 213, CPSC 221, CPSC 310, CPSC 410, and many more).
Since I'm writing this post to share my experience with the course, I'll start off by outlining and commenting on components of the course. Some parts of the course may have changed compared to the time I took it, but the key components should remain somewhat similar. If you have a question or want to share your experience about the course, feel free leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
The majority of the core content of CPSC 110 were delivered via edX, where I had to watch videos at my own time to learn how to write codes and solve programming problems in DrRacket. After each and every unit, there were multiple-choice quizzes relevant to the unit that I had to complete for grades. It's pretty straightforward, and I did relatively okay in this component of the course.
Up to the content of Week 4, I still felt relatively at ease with the content, so I thought I did okay in Midterm 1. Well, I did pass this midterm, but I expected a higher grade compared to what I got. Anyways, I was surprised at how quick the grading turnaround was—I recall the grades were released around the Add/Drop deadline with a W.
- What I should have done better: More practice
I still remember the Lab in Week 4. It was the one lab, other than the one in Week 1, which I managed to complete on my own (with reference to the course material of course). Aside from those two weeks, I did have some troubles here and there in the labs every other week. As I recall, the lab codes themselves were not graded, but the edX quizzes that asked questions about the lab activities.
- What I should have done better: Redo lab problems even after I have submitted the lab edX quizzes
For some reason I received decent grades in my problem sets overall, except for a week or two. What I did most of the time was emulating certain code structures in the course material we had. I made sure to follow the recipes and the general structure of the codes which was likely already covered in weekly material the problem sets were based upon.
- What I should have done better: Try working the problem sets without referring to course materials
Ok, now you know that I took a pre-pandemic, in-class edition of the course. As I mentioned earlier, since the bulk of the core content were delivered online through edX, classes were basically where the instructor and students went through practice problems together. iClicker questions were presented in almost every class, and answers would count for grades. My iClicker answers were often a hit-and-miss, however.
- What I should have done better: Be more prepared before coming to every class
This is when things took a turn for the worse for me. I failed this midterm, and quite miserably.
The final delivered, well, the final blow, to me. There's a fail-final-fail-course policy, meaning if you fail the final, no matter how well you have done so far in the course, you're done for, i.e. you fail the course.
- If you have done well on everything in the course so far, it's unlikely you'd fail the final.
- If you have done well on certain parts of the course but not so much on others, you need to exert more caution.
- If you have failed at least one midterm, then you need to be very careful going forward.
Over and Out
Again, I'm not posting this with the intent of scaring people away from taking the course, but since I took it with such naivety and delusion thinking "it'll just work out", I need to share my experience with it, especially since not a few fail it every term.
I will compile a more general list of advice in this post below.
- If you have taken CPSC 110 at UBC, what was your experience like? How much do you agree or disagree with this post?
- If you are planning to take CPSC 110, what questions do you have?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and perhaps we could share some ideas and encouragement in how to best navigate through the course.
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