In the Graphic Design course at my university you are required to do a small class of HTML (basic markup and CSS) in order to continue past trimester 2. This course is incredibly basic and would leave the student with the basis required to continue honing their skills, nothing more. However more than one graphic design student has protested this inclusion in their course, saying that they don't believe it helps them all that much. Later on when we get into the actual class I discover for a lot of them it's a pure primal fear of what they think is programming.
I have tried a series of tactics to try and break this down including:
Of all of these tactics the only one that has even vaguely worked was the last one, and even that is not fool proof as some students can't even start on their tutorial work for fear of failing.
It's mainly these students I am most worried about, these are the ones that fall behind and lose their way. Eventually they will stop turning up to classes, and from there it is often only a small step to not submitting assessments and dropping out altogether.
So what can be done in order to help with this scariness? Well this trimester I am putting a bunch of new initiatives in place in order to help with the development of my new students.
One of the things I noticed with my students last trimester was how they reacted to the 'life boat' classes. These classes were made so that right at the end of the course we would go through the process of building a site from start to finish, we me prompting the students for suggestions as we went. Through this I hoped to pull all the knowledge into a cohesive 'Ball-o-mental-map' that would allow them to finish their assessments properly. This worked really well for a handful of students, so I have decided to do a class walkthrough during every single class as we walk through the slides. So if we learn how list work, we will walk through building lists on the board etc.
Another issue I noticed is that students who would panic at the start of the class were often fine by the end of the class. On querying some of the students I discovered that it was partially because they were doing their tutorial work in class and then not thinking about HTML till next week. So using Socractive I have created a weekly test that will only be online from the Friday afternoon till Monday lunch. This forces them to go over their notes again in order to figure out the answers (hopefully).
With these initiatives in place I hope to see a reduced failure rate in my classes, but I will report back on these numbers at the end of the trimester.
Header image is from Don't fear the internet