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Team assignments in CS 322 “Data Structures & Algorithms II”

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### Team assignments inCS 322 “Data Structures & Algorithms II”

Jey VeerasamyCIS Adjunct Faculty

Baker College Online

CS 321 & CS 322 contents

- CS 321 focuses on data structures: arrays, linked lists, vectors, stacks and queues, then a little about recursion algorithms.
- CS 322 covers advanced data structures like hash tables, binary trees, AVL trees, and graphs, but the focus is more on algorithms: divide-and-conquer, greedy & dynamic programming approaches to solve various problems.

CS 322 Team Assignments

- Goals:
- Make students analyze the problems (a.k.a. critical thinking)
- Bring ideas to solve them based on those three approaches to the table
- Validate each other’s ideas
- Settle on the “right” data structures & arrive at the detailed pseudocode

What problems?

- I use classic problems like Knapsack problem, company party problem, activity scheduling problem, Huffman coding algorithm.
- Typically these algorithms are taught in graduate courses. So, I try my best to provide “just enough” help to start meaningfully and progress meaningfully.

S1

P

S2

S3

When & How?

- Spans 2 weeks: High level approach in Week 4 and low level pseudocode in Week 5.
- I assign 2 to 3 designers & 2 to 3 reviewers for each problem.
- All discussions done in Weekly discussion forums, NOT in group forums.

Student’s roles

- Each student is a designer for one problem (40 points) and also a reviewer for another problem (20 points). I reverse the roles in Week 5 for each problem.

Week 4

Week 5

P1

P1

Design

Review

S

S

Review

Design

P2

P2

Week 4 Process

- Start of Week 4: designers find the optimal solution for sample input manually and reviewers test it out.
- Week 4: designers come up with a few workable ideas, reviewers comment on them.
- End of Week 4: Try to zero in on one approach & verify it for a few sample inputs manually.

Week 5 process

- Start Week 5 with solid understanding of high level approach.
- Bring in the right data structures & details
- Verify its validity again by testing with a sample inputs.

What is good

- Students enjoy the experience. When one student hits the wall, another student brings up an idea, that keeps the team moving.
- Students learn to work with other’s “incomplete” ideas, practice their skills to give “constructive criticisms”.

Need to work on

- Sometimes students become impatient and find the solution using “web search” even though I stress on the “thinking process”, NOT the “end-result”.
- I try to ensure there is at least one “leader” in each team. But, there are times I end up with no leaders in the team No one starts the discussion!
- Some students refuse to post their ideas since they are not sure those ideas will work

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