UNH Launches New Programming Assistance Center
By Rachel Purnell, Computer Science
September 26, 2007
The academic experience of UNH’s first-year computer science students
has been revamped; one could say it is now more "centered."
CS 415, Introduction to Computer Science I, is many students' first
foray into the nitty-gritty of programming. And for some, the challenges
associated with it become overwhelming and discouraging enough to drop
out of the major. Professor and former chair Dan Bergeron knew something
significant had to be done without cheating the students out of the essential
programming skills they needed to learn. One solution: creating the Programming
Assistance Center (PAC).
Bergeron likens the PAC to the English department's Writing Center.
Like writing, programming involves "organizing your thoughts in
a coherent way or you won't get your point across," he says. "It's
a skill you have to do over and over again, and that's how you become
a better writer and a better programmer."
Before, students relied on recitations, class time, and instructor and
teaching assistant's office hours to get through CS 415. Now, in addition
to all of those things and the PAC, students must take a hands-on lab
section of CS 415 in the department's new computer classroom in Kingsbury
There are also more checks and balances in place for CS 415 students.
If they miss an assignment, an email is sent out telling them they need
to go to the PAC and arrange a plan to work on the assignment there.
What's more, if students are unable to finish an exercise in class, they
will be sent to the PAC to complete it.
"If students are having trouble with the content of the course,
we are hoping to intervene earlier," said Bergeron.
The PAC opened its doors on Sept.16. During the fall semester the center
will be open Sundays from 4 - 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.
- 8 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.