So, my spirits have fallen and soared over this last week as the final presentations for the Object Oriented Programming class came in. First, I have never seen my students so engaged in actual coding as they have been on this project. Second, I had a few students show up (despite their weekly initials on the attendance sheet) well into the project without having been assigned a group. A few stern conversations about the opportunity of education being to learn rather than to be credientialed (with potentially empty credentials).....
However, putting them in formal groups was brilliant, if I do say so myself. I harnessed their collaborative sense but also promoted a sense of individual accountability. (high point; hold applause)
It also made it easier to see that 4 of the 12 groups submitted identical programs. (low point). So, I took a little time to mentally prep and had each group meet with me as planned. A couple of things seemed foreign to them in this approach: 1) there were only 5 students in the class room at a time (single group) and 2) the professor was actually talking to them about their work. They seemed elated as they answered my questions about why they designed their programs one way vs. another.
Shocker: even the "duplicate submissions" groups seemed really, really happy, and it didn't seem that it was only due to the fact that I wasn't going to narc them out (for you young'uns, find someone old to translate). I said that I wouldn't accept duplkicate work and, in any case, what they submitted had some problems anyway. They had until Tuesday to give me something better. Then we talked about what would be better and they weren't clueless. Apparently the 19 of them who had not been the original author had read the code and were in some position to know what they wanted to do, given the opportunity.
All in all, the bald delight that they showed during this project was wonderful. Rwandans are not ironic people; they are not cynical. When they are happy, man, is it contagious. And seeing a room of 60 very engaged, happy students is a fine thing anywhere on the globe.