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I work at a bootcamp where I teach programming. I have a student in my class who would ask 1 question every minute. This student would ask about every single thing like where to add this code and how I should do X and Y without even trying.

How do you deal with a student who asks 100's of questions a day?

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    Having said that I believe I will be doing a disservice to them if I instantly give them the answer. Because then they will NOT learn anything or these will never struggle. During the time of this post the person has asked me at least 6 questions already :( – John Carpenter Feb 21 at 20:35
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    spam him with a link to this question ;-) – user847982 Feb 21 at 21:00
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    Socratic method. Instead of answering the student's questions with concrete answers, answer each question by asking the student a leading question that forces them to start thinking in the right direction in order to answer your questions. – Matt Feb 21 at 23:13
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    I think the answer may be substantially different for a boot camp than for a traditional university setting. You have different performance metrics, a different level of academic freedom, different management, and students with different goals and expectations. – Nate Eldredge Feb 21 at 23:34
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Establish clear learning goals that include problem solving and finding the answers as part of the task.

This essentially falls under the "teach someone to fish" adage. The most important skill to learn in a programming boot camp isn't going to be a repertoire of functions or a mastery of a certain language's syntax, but rather a piece of the programming process itself, which includes problem solving and the associated skills.

It sounds like you're getting broken down by complaints and feeling like you have to provide an answer to help with a given line of code, but I think if you instead frame it in your own mind (and make clear to the students as well) that you are teaching the entire process, it will be easier to refuse to answer those questions and refocus on ways that the student can find their own answer.

  • Thanks Bryan! Out of 24 students one is the needy one. Others try their best and attempt different paths. The other problem which I mentioned before is that one of the student out of 26 complained about me saying that instructor does not provide a lot of help. My manager had to talk to me about it. Kinda sucks because I want them to hunt for answers on their own and then ask me. I don't want to hold their hand all the way. – John Carpenter Feb 21 at 20:52
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    Update: Now since I am providing minimal answers, that student is asking questions to a TA (Teacher Assistant). Ughh.. Just try yourself for at least 30 minutes before surrendering. – John Carpenter Feb 21 at 20:53
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    @JohnCarpenter That's partly why I suggest making it a clear learning goal. In that case, when the student or the manager complains, you can point to that goal as an important part of the course. Including problem solving strategies in the instruction could possibly help other students, too, even if they aren't as 'needy'. As you said in a comment, you know it will be a disservice to hand out the answers; flip that around and instead do a service by helping them find their own answer instead. – Bryan Krause Feb 21 at 20:53
  • Thanks @Bryan Krause Yes I will make it clear again tomorrow. I told my students already that they should try the solution for at least 30 minutes on their own. If they are not able to find a solution then ask me. Unfortunately, for one student 30 minutes is more like 30 seconds. – John Carpenter Feb 21 at 20:55
  • You can probably do more than just suggest a time limit. The time limit is a good rule to preserve your time and energy, but it isn't really pedagogically useful. Maybe suggest they be scientific with their code: if they aren't sure if it will work, they should see what happens if they try. If they don't know where to add a line of code, have them try in different spots and see what happens. Suggest they explain their code to a rubber duck. Help with strategies, not solutions. – Bryan Krause Feb 21 at 20:58
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Teach a man to fish...

If a student responds to you telling to work on some particular thing with "that they have no idea how to do that X thing" it's worth taking it at face value and figure out what would be the recommended action if they needed to do X, had no idea how to do that, and had no access to you. Don't tell them how to do X - tell them where and how they can find that out.

Assuming that X is in your study plan, you can point out where in your study materials is something on how to do X - give them something specific that they can do, i.e. reviewing particular slides or reading some documentation, or reviewing sample code, repeating some hands-on exercise. If it's not in your study materials, perhaps it should be? Not necessarily as something for everybody to go through, but as extra reference.

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There are a lot of tricks.

Ask to see the work in progress before you give a hint.

Learn to give minimal hints, not answers. One sort of hint is pointing to where the answer might be found.

More extreme is to ration your hints to each person. Even more extreme is to charge "points" for hints, though it is better if they have some mechanism to earn them back.

If there is only one (or two) students who do this, perhaps an office session would be appropriate to explore why they do this. Some students come with misinformation about the material or how they should deal with it. Some of these are deep seated and very hard to solve, but some can be handled by just giving a flash of insight. The hard cases may require extra tutorials to catch up.

In CS programming lab situations, the best mechanism is Pair Programming where students work in pairs on their lab exercises. It might be applicable to some other fields. This is especially useful if you have more than a few students who exhibit this sort of behavior.

Also ask yourself if there is something about the overall class structure that is lacking and see if you can't address that. Longer lectures probably isn't the right answer for that one though IMO. More sample problems might be.

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