… is that many teachers and students “focus’ has been for decades on developing […] documentation, while the true reasons for which they have been developed has slowly been forgotten, transforming them from means to ends“. This is what Giancarlo Succi, author of Extreme Programming Explained says about what I really consider to be our most important failing.
Documentation is important for one reason only: to explain something!
Heck! It does not even need to be a paper report. It can perfectly be a wiki, a podcast or even the back of an envelope provided it is informative.
Teachers should tell students that trivialities like the number of pages and the typeface to be used are only trivialities (sic!). What is crucial is the exactness and precision of the contents! When I did my MPhil in Computer Science at the Ecole Normale SupÃ©rieure in Lyon in France, I was told to write a 30-pages thesis or risk penalties.
Now, students from the University (for example) routinely write (or are asked to write) 100-pages or even 200-pages reports with only one logical consequence. They have discovered the Joys of Plagiarism…
Do I blame those students? Of course not! We should not ask them to write that much!
(As an aside, all my students are doing oral presentations right now (exposÃ©s) and, except for a few groups, most presentations have the same failing: lots and lots of drivel but no real meat!)
Let’s get back to basics!
(Comics courtesy of Piled Higher and Deeper)
indeed.. you are right
i presume you as a lecturer you get this question very often
“Sir, how much pages should it be?”
i think the most important thing in writing a report is to know who will be the targeted audience and how technical it should be.
last year some friends in first year asked me to have a look at their Applications development report.
The problem was that instead of putting emphasis on how the system works, with different levels of dfds etc
they keep on writing. “what is a dfd”, “How is it important”, ” uses of dfd etc”
The things what really mattered were not present.
video podcasting will be great for our project demo
Am currently having a look at “Camtasia Studio”, a creat tool that records in a range of video formats whats your screen :P
well said vicksss..
we as students, if we have to return a huge report of 200 pages, its evident that in order to reach those 200 pages, we will have to include a lot of things that are just ‘nonsense’ including definitions, examples, diagrams instead of putting valuable and facts.
for instance,lets take the final year report.
just to fill in the pages, you get all kind of definitions, diagrams copied from the net, just as vicks stated.
if, the supervisor clearly states that he wants only 100 pages with no blabla, then the students will take that into account when writing the report.
instead of copying pages, they would rather write their own summary that would take a few pages.
i really think that lecturers should put emphasis on
“Quality Not Quantity!”
As Saint ExupÃ©ry said, “You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, Not when you have nothing more to add, But when you have nothing more to take away…”
Well my point of view is not different from all of you. But i guess you all guys are interpreting things NOT wrongly but i would rather in a single direction. It’s as if you are all embarking in a one way route and complaining that you cannot reverse back.
“Documentation in itself at its very source is simply any communicable material such as text, video, audio, etc., used to explain some attributes of an object, system or procedure. It is often used to mean engineering or software documentation, which is usually paper books or computer readable files (such as HTML pages) that describe the structure and components, or on the other hand, operation, of a system/product.” Ref:wikipedia
Now we need to understand one very important point. Documentations or reports as you called them are intended for multiple users, with different background, different ways of thinking, different technical skills, different approaches to analysis, different problem understanding and problem solving skills, hence different…i’m tired already ;-)
Yeps, so…hmmm….so refering to the above quote from wikipedia, we must never forget that the sole and ultimate aim is to communicate information, that is, make sure your audience or user understand what he/she needs to understand.Now since we are all DIFFERENT, there must be a way of making sure we understand what we read in a documantion. That’s is why sometimes DFDs are partly presented in a report/documentaion. Understand one very important fact. What is extremely very very easy for you may not be so for someone else who may be more skillfull and intelligent than you. This is nature dear !!! :-)
So to make sure they all understand, be sure that they are all ‘standardized’ that the role of these DFDs, etc. Even if your users are different, use these small painless techniques to regroup them under one roof.
Concerning the issue of 100 pages, 200 pages, etc., my opinion is not different from yours. In fact, i suggest that the CSE department should re-consider reports writing specially for computer science students. Emphasis needs to be made on content and quality and not on quantity. ;-)
some nice views by nevin
i think vicks and yashvin sum it all up :)
But one thing i find not nice, it that when some lecturers
give away reports, they don’t mention the audience and
they often restrict it to paper reports!
i believe it should be left to the students to be creative
and also it will be nicer for the lecturer to correct something different..
One thing i always wanted to know..
Does the lecturer really read all student reports from cover to cover??
(200 pages X 50 students) :P
Btw Nice blog Mr meetoo
As for your existentialist interrogation, I am deeply sad to tell you that:
NO!!!!! WE DON’T READ YOUR BLOODILY BLOATED AND DRIVEL-ORIENTED REPORTS FROM COVER TO COVER! LIFE IS TOO SHORT!
More seriously, I suppose this depends on the lecturer. I tend to go through reports en diagonale and then read only those parts which seem innovative and/or interesting…
The thing I really despise in students reports is the Background Study when it is only a poor copy/paste job from some website or Wikipedia.
I repeat myself. For my MPhil, my background study was 7 (yes, SEVEN) pages long!!!
When i was studying for my bachelor of science course, my university always required students to get a plagiarism report from http://mydropbox.com/ for every project documentation/assignment submitted. It is a really great tool – it would be great if the university of mauritius could use this to detect and discourage plagiarism.
My final year project documentation was not more than 100 pages. I believe imposing a maximum number of pages (say 100) could really make students focus on quality instead of quantity.