a minor school-related aggravation

For my major, I’m required to take Computer Science 101, “Computing Concepts and Competencies.” During this class, I’ve learned such valuable things as changing cell colors in Microsoft Excel, and creating tables of contents in Word documents.

You can imagine that I find the class rather less than enthralling.

The class was apparently created by two faculty members, though it’s not clear who they are and I’ve yet to see one. It’s taught by grads who seem to be competent but are essentially reduced to going through a canned curriculum and following instructions that come from above.

We’re graded on the basis of “Bridge Tasks”, each of which has about six or so questions requiring minor demonstrations of what we’ve learned. They’re administered by the computer, and graded by (I’m guessing) yet more grads. Passing a bridge task guarantees a certain GPA; for example, I just failed by 2.5 bridge task, meaning that I have to retake it or I’ll receive a 2.0 in the class.

I failed it because I missed one question; I was supposed to select which computer system (specs were in a spreadsheet) was best according to three arbitrary criteria. One system was best in two of the three criteria, and tied for best in the third. Which apparently doesn’t qualify, at least not according to whoever graded my bridge task.

Now these bridge tasks are essentially equivalent to tests, except that missing one question means failing the whole thing and having to retake it (on my own time, at that.) So instead I complain about my grade; apparently there’s an entire process to get grades reviewed, and it’s not good enough just to show it to my instructor (who incidentally agrees with me on the grade.) Instead I have to wait 48 to 72 hours for an email.

This class really gets on my fucking nerves; the whole thing has been . . . mechanized . . . to the point that everything is immensely inconvenient. My instructor can’t help because someone, somewhere has to decide if my complaint is relevant. Meanwhile, whoever’s grading the things is a complete fucking moron who decided to fail me on the basis of a legalistic interpretation of the word “best” even though it doesn’t indicate anything about my ability to use computers at all. I really fucking resent this useless class, and today is the icing on the fucking cake. Yeah, in a few days it won’t matter but at the moment, I’m just really pissed off that I have to be here at all.

In the email I sent requesting a regrading, I discussed the ambiguity of the question, the meaning of the word “best”, and the fact that retaking that bridge task will provide no possible benefit to anyone. I think the SDMB is starting to rub off on me.

I’m interested in more details about this “Best System” question. A system was best or tied for best in the 3 categories, but is not the best?

I attended a brand-spanking-new university for my undergrad, and a “Computers for Dummies” course was on the books as a requirement for my major. I took Introduction to Computer Programming instead. Lo and behold, the next year (presumably after many complaints by the folks who actually jumped through that rediculous hoop), they changed the requirements from “Computers for Dummies” to “Intro to Programming”. I should mention my major was in the sciences, I grew up around computers of many varieties, and I’ve been programming almost since I could read, and anything they wanted to teach me in the CfD course I picked up in ~45 minutes in the computer labs. Could you have taken a useful course to fulfull the prerequisite?


My school has one of those as well, but it is a requirement for all students. Quite frankly, I never understood the point of it. I think I learned one useful thing in that class, which was some Excel trick that I’ve been able to put to good use. However, that trick is also in my copy of Excel For Chemists, so it was pretty much a complete waste of time. What I really hated was the waste of time known as “library research” (though that may have been a lab section in the freshman combined biology/chemistry lab.) Basically, you had to pick a topic, do some preliminary research, write up a bibliography, and basically do everything except writing the paper. At that point, I was so pissed off that they wasted my time doing that that I would have rather actually have had to write the paper, so that I’d at least have something to show for it.

Hey I know how this goes, I had the same type of thing happen to me. We had to take a basic computer course in 91-92. So we didn’t have the really good machines. I could find my way around the computer lab no problem since I had had a copmuter for 10 years at the time.

Except the tests were not on the computer, they were on all the stupid parts of a computer, printer, all sorts of useless shit. I ended up getting a C in the class because the questions were on printers of the 1960s and other shit that had no meaning to todays computers. The guy who sat next to me got a better grade, even though he never could figure out how to turn on the computer.

I heard from my brother, who was apparently in a class with this person, that one of the members of the team that developed Mosaic decided to go back to grad school, and had to take the required Intro to Computing Concepts course, which of course involved a lot of learning about how to use Netscape. :smack:

Why couldn’t you get out of taking this class, if you already know the material?

When I was in school, you could “test out” of a class, by demonstrating that you already knew this material (usually by taking the final exam, or writing a paper, etc.).

Don’t schools do this anymore? Or do people just not go thru the hassle of asking for it?

In some schools, you can pay 1/2 the course fee and challenge the course by writing the final exam on a Pass/Fail basis. Some schools will not allow you to do this for a course with a lab component. Many times, any madatory computer lab time (some math courses, as well as Comp-Sci) counts as a lab component.

So the answer to you question would be: “it depends on which type of school the OP attends”.


I happen to be in a ‘Computers for Dummies’ class right now (well, technically, waiting for it to start). It’s not required, I just decided to take it because I wanted to learn some minor web development, which was about half the course last year. This year they dumbed the course down a bit–we have two small labs on making websites (one HTML, one JavaScript), and that’s about it. Most of the course is on computer history (which, while mildy interesting, is as useful as mud) and stuff like Microsoft Word and Excel. Remind me why I’m taking this class again? Oh yeah, I thought I’d learn something I didn’t already know :smack:

That said, it still sounds a lot better than what you’re taking, in that it’s not mechanized out the ying-yang. Remember, stuff like this is why God gave us beer.

For my course we were required to attend our first week of just a computer tutorial, then our regular classes started… including a basic Business Computers. I took it, mostly because when I looked at the project that you had to do as the accelerated it confused me.

We ended up doing the same project, only explained better. But I didn’t learn much from the class. It was mostly a brushup on word and excel, with a couple of things that I hadn’t known being shown to us, and the database. Most of the time was spent by me showing everyone else what the teacher was talking about, it was quite scary how many students couldn’t figure most of this stuff out.