Contact Information

Computer Science Department
Colgate University
McGregory Hall, 3rd Floor
13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
(tel) 315.228.7719
Charlotte Jablonski, Administrative Assistant

CS majors start problem solving sessions for intro-level courses

Two Computer Science majors, Farah Fouladi '15 and Lauren Yeary '15, recently started holding tutoring and problem-solving sessions for women enrolled in our intro-level courses.

Q: Can you describe a bit of what you do and your goals for these sessions?

Lauren: Right now these sessions are taking on more of a tutoring style meeting where the women in 101 and 102 come with problems from review sheets or from class and we help them with those, which is awesome. We are hoping that this will turn into more of an open forum where Farah and I will be in the lounge for an hour once a week and the women in the intro classes can come by to work on problems with each other and we will be there to assist as needed or to talk about CS related things such as the difficulty of courses or research opportunities.

Farah: Ideally, each semester a group of women in COSC 101 and COSC 102 would commit to short, once-a-week, problem-solving sessions facilitated by Lauren and I. In these sessions students work together to answer a few practice problems that pertain to the material they are learning in class. The goal for these sessions is not to offer extra tutoring or homework-helping opportunities to women, but rather to give women a space where they can freely put forth ideas and talk through questions they may have. In a male-dominated concentration (students, professors, and tutors are mostly male) speaking out can be difficult for girls especially in their first and second years. So I hope these sessions can help foster a female community and a comfortable learning space for women in computer science.

Q: What got you interested in doing these problem solving sessions?

Lauren: I was a little lost going through 101 and 102 and I don't think that was solely because I am a woman, but probably more because I had no clue what CS was before stepping into my first 101 class. I do think that coming into 101 without any previous knowledge of CS is more common for women than men at Colgate, so having this extra resource for women is important because it provides a small community, which hopefully makes it more comfortable and enjoyable to be a part of our department!

Farah: When I took COSC 102 during my first year, weekly peer-led learning sessions were held in the lounge, and each week a concentrator would help a small group of us through practice problems. I have no doubt that these sessions were instrumental in my understanding of the concepts introduced in COSC 102 - because the best way to learn a programming language is through a lot of practice! Unfortunately since my first year this program has ended (due to low enrollment). But because I had a very positive experience with these weekly problem-solving sessions, I hope to bring them back to the computer science department.

Q: What got you interested in computer science?

Lauren: It's actually so random. I was registering for fall semester sophomore year and I was dead last, so I knew every class I wanted would be filled. Earlier that year my Dad took a job at Intel so when I told him all the classes I was interested in weren't going to be available he suggested I take Intro to Computer Science. I think I actually laughed at him when he said that because I was positive I wouldn't like and couldn't do Computer Science. The only class I could find without a waitlist was COSC 101 so I signed up thinking it was some sort of karma. It was definitely one of the hardest classes I've ever taken just because the learning curve is so steep but I really liked it so I pushed through and signed up for 102 and when I finished 102 I knew I had found something special. So I switched my major, signed up for a bunch more CS courses and now I spend way to much time in the lounge!

Farah: In my high school, the Dean of the Students was a computer science professor. He incorporated into the curriculum that all sophomores must take one semester of computer science - just to try it out - and this was at an all-female high school! In my first computer science course we wrote short, simple, but fun programs in BASIC, which was one of my favorite courses that year. So I continued taking CS courses in high school and have enjoyed programming ever since.

(Updated Oct. 14, 2013, midnight)
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