I will be teaching introductory computer science and am considering using a book [sample chapter] that is so well-written and self-contained that, at least for the first few chapters, it's not clear that the students need lectures. Should I just spend a few minutes at the beginning of the class giving an overview, then set them to work lab-style, enlisting TAs to roam the room with me? (I teach in a classroom with a computer for each student.) That seems lazy, but I'm not sure what value I can add (until the material gets more challenging around Chapter 4). FWIW, I'm a tenured professor, so I don't have to worry about being judged by anyone (except myself).

UPDATE: It occurs to me that something else I can do during classtime is meet one-on-one with students to find out what they hope to get from the course and how it is going for them.

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    It sounds like what you are suggesting is similar to a "flipped classroom", with a well-written tutorial in the place of the usual online lecture.
    – Corvus
    May 23, 2015 at 22:57
  • @Corvus I thought of that, but (at this point) I wouldn't be asking them to watch videos or anything else outside of class. May 23, 2015 at 23:08
  • @espertus to make sure you are adding value to the book, you can track the progress, identify difficulties, and host lectures on the topics that students find more challenging, explaining in a different way.
    – Davidmh
    May 25, 2015 at 14:59
  • This kind of question would fit nicely at area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/92460/… (it's still in private beta, so you have to click "visit" from that page)
    – Ben I.
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


I'm concerned by your statement "That seems lazy" because it implies that you are focusing on yourself when really you should be focused on the student, specifically what the students are learning.

It is very easy for us to think from our own perspective but we must consider the perspective of student learning to be of primary importance.

If you believe the text is a good text (which you seem to) then it would seem the right path to take is to have students spending their class time working through the book (as a workshop) with you there to guide them if they get stuck or if they want some more advanced information.

In general, it's easy - that's good. Remember the old saying "Those who do, learn." So, you want the "students to do" rather than "you to do."

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    You're right, it shouldn't be about me. OTOH, it's legitimate for me to apply extra scrutiny to a teaching strategy that drastically reduces the amount of prep I have to do, to make sure I'm doing it for the right reasons. May 24, 2015 at 16:09
  • @espertus I agree completely.
    – earthling
    May 24, 2015 at 23:59

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