C++ B–

Posted on November 2, 2012

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Just had a student come in looking for help w/ her C++ homework.

I don’t know from C++.   However, it looked like she was having trouble with framing the problem, not the code. We don’t have C++ tutors adn… I might just want to learn it some fine day.

I spent a full minute gazing at the problem and having my brain rebel thinking of the effort at trying to pick out the logic parts, knowing that I’d have to think reasonably hard about the logic, and then have to figure out how it worked with the language structures it was being presented in, even if I didn’t have to actually figure out the language structures.

I succeeded (hey, it’s only 10:00 — by afternoon I wouldn’t have) and made some suggestions about what to do with the random numbers she’d been told to generate.   I have no idea whether it was useful or not.

Then I went back to working with the student who was using the calculator to figure out regressions… but was having even more trouble with taking that final answer and “rounding to the nearest cent.”   I realized that she might have been in the same kind of cognitive muck that I’d been wandering in… where you keep having to go check back to make sure things sort of almost make sense and hold the possible sources of error in your working memory while you look ahead, which makes out-of-context (to you, anyway) ideas like “round to the nearest cent” when you’ve been speaking of slopes and intercepts foreign.

Then, I figured, factor in the belief based on your experience that none of this actually makes real sense… silencing the “this is *never* going to work!” voices adds piles of straw to the poor camel’s back.

Then there’s the anxiety part, per http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/11/study-worrying-about-math-can-activate-pain-areas-in-the-brain/264419/ 

Posted in: math