Intro to

Spring 2021



A first class in computer programming and computing skills, and as such a foundation for further work in computer science. Much as a competency with English grammar is required for writing, an understanding of programming is required for nearly all intermediate and advanced work in computing. Topics include program design, boolean logic, input and output, object oriented programming, and some basic computing skills such as code editing, debugging, and practice with the unix command line environment.

Students will learn to design and implement computer programs for tasks such as drawing graphical patterns, transforming and analyzing data files, and responding to user input. The language used will be Python, a general purpose high level scripting language often used in domains such as scientific computing and web development.

A computer (MacOS, Windows, or Linux) onto which Python and related modules and tools may be installed is required.

learning outcomes

Students will learn fundamental computing concepts and skills including


This is a tentative schedule which is subject to change. The specifics will be posted in assignments and notes as we go along.

 Feb         18
        22   25       umber, jupyter, shell, hello_world
 Mar     1    4       chap 2, 3 : strings, lists
         8            chap 4 : graphics - sol lewitt lab
        15   18       chap 5 : strings, lists, files
        22   25       chap 6 : functions, ant song
        29    1       chap 7 & 8 : decisions & loops
 Apr          8
        12   15       chap 9: simulation ; start group project
        19   22       group projects : STOP  game
        26            chap 10 : defining objects
 May     3    6       chap 11 : data structures ; start final project
        10   13       chap 12 : recursion
        17   20       final project - first draft
        24   27       final project - final draft


The course will consist of


Learning the fundamentals of computer science is different for everyone and may even differ from topic to topic or problem to problem in terms of how much time and effort is required to master that topic or problem.

Working in a group setting on a larger problem can present a unique challenge in terms of workload - groups will be responsible for dividing work equitably among all partners and holding each other accountable to get tasks done well in a timely manner. Even the best project plans are not perfect, and as such, it should be expected that some weeks may be more intense than others. It is advised that students communicate with each other and the instructor regarding schedule, availability and workload.

As a 4 credit course, you should expect to spend roughly 12 hours of time per week on this course, including class time.

expectations and academic integrity

A note on attribution, code, and the culture of programming...

The "culture" surrounding programming is one that encourages sharing and collaboration. Open-source software, online communities such as StackOverflow, GitHub/Gist, and the fast-paced nature of the technology world have all led to a vast collection of places where programmers can quickly and easily get help in solving common and not-so-common problems. This is a fantastic and vital part of being a 'programmer', and I encourage you to use and contribute to these communities.

This being said, there are a few important guidelines that MUST be followed in order to strike a balance between collaboration and academic integrity:

Here's an example of quoting your sources : a lot of the preceding language in this syllabus is from Andrew Cencini's Fall 2019 edition of this course. ("Hi Andrew!")


The overall course grade will be the average of

The homework grade is based on the number of assignments completed and submitted on time.

Project grades will be based on

If circumstances outside of your control - illness, technology issues, your dog ate your homework - get in the way, please do let me know, and we will try to work things out.


Questions about any of this? Ask Jim.

college policies


Bennington College provides reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities when such accommodations are requested and necessary to ensure equal access to College programs and facilities. If you believe you are entitled to an accommodation speak with Katy Evans, the Academic Services and Accommodations Advisor, about any disability-related needs. If approved, you will receive a memo detailing your specific accommodations; it is your responsibility to provide me with the memo and discuss the implementation of accommodations. Note that I will not be aware of your needs if you do not share this memo with me. Accommodations are not retroactive, so the sooner we meet to discuss your needs, the better. Also, students experiencing mental and/or physical health challenges that are significantly impacting their academic work are encouraged to speak with their faculty advisor and member of Academic Services ( or 440-4400) about the impact and to connect with resources through health and psychological services (440-4426 or 440-4451).

basic needs

At Bennington College, we understand that basic needs (food, housing, and wellness) have a direct impact on academic performance, mental-emotional-physical health, professional development, and holistic success of our students. If you have a personal circumstance or need that will affect your learning or performance in this course, please let me or your faculty advisor know so that we can direct you to available resources to help support you during the term.


Bennington College is committed to fostering the intellectual growth of all students, and to creating a learning environment where human cultural diversity is valued and respected. To that end, in this course all students can expect a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. I hope that all students in this course will openly share their unique perspectives and, just as importantly, respect the perspectives, comments, and contributions made by every other student and guest that participates in this course during the term. If you feel that at any time that this goal is not being met, please don’t hesitate to see me, or speak with a college administrator (e.g., from The Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Student Life, or Academic Services) to share your concern. /courses /spring2021 /introcs /syllabus
last modified Wed February 24 2021 8:16 pm