COMP 151: Intro to Programming, Spring 2020

As of March 18, 2020, this course has been moved to Moodle due to COVID-19. This page remains as a syllabus, but the schedule, assignments, and many policies no longer apply.

This syllabus is subject to change based on specific class needs, especially the schedule. Significant deviations will be discussed in class.




Introduction to Programming teaches basic programming skills that are applicable to a variety of disciplines and also acts as a bridge to continued studies in Computer Science. Students will work with the Python programming language in order to solve basic problems involving digital media: images, sound. By the end of the course students will be able to read and develop computer programs utilizing the following programming concepts: basic data types and encoding, variables and scope, array and list data structures, if statements and conditional execution, loops and iteration, functions, and object types.


One textbook is required:

You will NOT need the “access card package” with MyLab Programming. Other sources will be posted on this webpage as needed.


Introduction to Programming makes heavy use of two pieces of software. Both are freely available for use on personal devices but can also be accessed from the college’s computers either directly or via the web. All programming will be done using Jython Environment for Students (JES). Downloads for JES can be found here. Windows users should download the version that includes the JAR. MAC users will most likely need the version with OS X workaround. The question and answer software Socrative will be used on an almost daily basis. Students will need to create a free student account at where it is also possible to participate in socrative sessions via the web. Socrative also provides free iOS and Android apps for students to use. You can find them on the respective app stores or get direct links at


Assignments and Workload

The weekly workload for this course will vary by student and by week but should be about 12.5 hours per week on average. The following table provides a rough estimate of the distribution of time over different course components for a 16 week semester, as well as detailing the type, amount, and relative value of all assignments.

Category Amount Final Grade Weight Time/Week (Hours)
Lectures ~41 10% (Participation) 2.5
Labs 8–10 10% 3
Homework 8 10% 1
Exam Study - - 1
Exams 6 45% -
Projects 2 25% 3
Reading - - 2
Total     12.5

Exams: All exams are weighted equally and will take approximately the same amount of time. Exams will generally focus on material covered since the previous exam but will be in some sense cumulative due to the nature of programming. Unless stated otherwise, assume that exams will be pencil and paper and that computers will not be available during the exam period.

Projects: Two larger scale programming projects will be undertaken during the semester. These projects will be individual efforts and will require much more effort than the programs written in lab or as part of homework. Students can expect to have two weeks from the time of the project assignment to complete the project. One or more lab periods will be dedicated to work on the project. It is highly recommend that all students make ample use of the time given on these projects.

Homework: Students will be assigned a set of problems from each chapter of the book covered in the course. These problems are meant to guide reading, prepare the student for in class problems, and survey the material covered by the exam. Each student will turn in their own set of solutions.

Labs: Students will be placed into groups of two or three for each lab. Work will be done using paired programming, a programming practice where each member of the group takes turns typing while the other group member helps look for typos, bugs, and otherwise assists in the design of the code. Each group will submit their work at the end of the lab period regardless of the overall completeness of the assignment. The goal is to make good constructive progress on the assignment. Full credit can and will be given on unfinished work so long as it can be executed to complete some portion of the given task, shows evidence of purposeful progress, and the group made full use of the lab period.


Your final grade is based on a weighted average of particular assignment categories. You can estimate your current grade based on your scores and these weights. You may always visit the instructor outside of class to discuss your current standing. Assignments and final grades use a standard grading scale shown below and will not be curved except in rare cases when deemed necessary by the instructor.

This courses uses a standard grading scale. Assignments and final grades will not be curved except in rare cases when its deemed necessary by the instructor. Percentage grades translate to letter grades as follows:

Score Grade
94–100 A
90–93 A-
88–89 B+
82–87 B
80–81 B-
78–79 C+
72–77 C
70–71 C-
68–69 D+
62–67 D
60–61 D-
0–59 F

You are always welcome to challenge a grade that you feel is unfair or calculated incorrectly. Mistakes made in your favor will never be corrected to lower your grade. Mistakes made not in your favor will be corrected. Basically, after the initial grading your score can only go up as the result of a challenge*.

You are always welcome to challenge a grade that you feel is unfair or calculated incorrectly. Mistakes made in your favor will never be corrected to lower your grade. Mistakes made not in your favor will be corrected. Basically, after the initial grading your score can only go up as the result of a challenge.

Lab and homework assignments are graded on a simple 3 point scale, marked with (in decreasing order) a check-plus, check, or check minus. Your final grade for these two assignment categories is then based on the respective averages.

Your participation grade is based on a variety of activities, but especially daily use of Socrative for in-class question and answer sessions. Questions will cover portions of the text that were assigned as reading and will range from simple checks to see if the reading was done to more challenging questions that follow from a close examination of the reading. For the most part, the only requirement is to provide an answer to every question and participate in the resultant discussions. On occasion, questions will be evaluated for their correctness and performance on 3 these questions will also factor into the course participation grade. Students who do the reading and start the homework as soon as possible will have very little to worry about.

While there is no strict attendance policy, the course participation grade is based in large part on engagement with socrative. Absent students cannot participate in socrative sessions. Students should avoid unexcused absences, as defined in the college-wide absence policy. Whenever possible, let the instructor know of the absence before it occurs. When unexcused absences do occur, it is the student’s responsibility to make up for the lost class time and to seek the permission of the instructor to hand-in or complete assignments that are late due to an unexcused absence.

This course is designed around the assumption that students engage in new ideas before they’re covered in class meetings. This means doing assigned reading, taking a stab at homework problems, and as a result coming to class and lab with some understand about a new idea or, just as likely, with a host of questions about something encountered in the reading and homework. Not attending class, skipping lab, and putting off work to the point that an extension is needed are signs that a student isn’t holding up their end of the bargain and is not prepared to participate in class.



The following tentative calendar should give you a feel for how work is distributed throughout the semester. Assignments and events are listed in the week they are due or when they occur. This calendar is subject to change based on the circumstances of the course.

Note: All readings should be done before the class period in which they are listed below.

Date Topic Assignment
Fri 01/17 Intro to Computer Science 1.1-1.2
Mon 01/20 Python and JES 1.3-1.5
(Mon/Tue Lab) (No lab – MLK Day) Hwk 1 (Solutions)
Wed 01/22 Basic Python Exercises 2.1-2.5
Fri 01/24 Manipulating Images 4.1-4.2
Mon 01/27 For loops 4.3-4.4
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 1 (Solutions) Hwk 2 (Solutions)
Wed 01/29 For loop exercises 4.5-4.6
Fri 01/31 Exam 1  
Mon 02/03 Indexing; Exam 1 Solutions 4.7-4.8
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 2 (Solutions) Hwk 3 (Solutions)
Wed 02/05 Specifying Pixels by Index  
Fri 02/07 If Statements (replacing pixels) 5.1
Mon 02/10 Edge Detection 5.2
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 3 (Solutions) No homework, Practice Exam 2
Wed 02/12 Exam Review Practice Exam 2 Solutions
Fri 02/14 Exam 2  
Mon 02/17 Background Subtraction; Exam 2 Solutions 5.3-5.4
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 4 (Solutions), Starter image Hwk 4 (Solutions)
Wed 02/19 Coloring in Ranges 5.5-5.6
Fri 02/21 Nested for loops 6.1
Mon 02/24 Mirroring A Picture 6.2
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 5 (Solutions) (No homework)
Wed 02/26 Copying; References vs. Copies 6.3
Fri 02/28 Exam 3  
Mon 03/02 Exam 3 Solutions  
Mon/Tue Lab Lab 6, Starter image Hwk 5 (Solutions)
Wed 03/04 Copying and Transforming 6.3
(Fri 03/06) (No class – Exam day for half-semester classes)  
(Mon 03/09) (No class – Spring Break)  
(Mon/Tue Lab) (No class – Spring Break)  
(Wed 03/11) (No class – Spring Break)  
(Fri 03/13) (No class – Spring Break)  
Mon 03/16   6.4-6.5
Mon/Tue Lab Project 1 Prep Lab Project 1
Wed 03/18   6.6-6.7
Fri 03/20   10.1-10.2
Mon 03/23    
Mon/Tue Lab Free lab for project 1  
Wed 03/25    
Fri 03/27    
Mon 03/30    
Mon/Tue Lab Free lab for project 1  
Wed 04/01    
Fri 04/03    
Mon 04/06    
Mon/Tue Lab Lab Project 1 due, Hwk
Wed 04/08 Exam 4  
(Fri 04/10) (No class – Easter Break)  
(Mon 04/13) (No class – Easter Break)  
(Mon/Tue Lab) (No class – Scholars Day)  
Wed 04/15    
Fri 04/17    
Mon 04/20    
Mon/Tue Lab Lab Project 2
Wed 04/22   10.3-10.5
Fri 04/24 Exam 5  
Mon 04/27    
Mon/Tue Lab Free lab for project 2  
Wed 04/29    
Fri 05/01    
Mon 05/04    
Mon/Tue Lab Free lab for project 2  
Wed 05/06    
Fri 05/08   Project 2 due
Wed 05/13 8:00 AM Final Exam  

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