General Suggestions for the AP Computer Science Classroom


The “proofreading method” works with students who are finished with assignments before the rest of the class, with students who lack confidence, and with students who cannot focus their attention. Have the student proofread other students' programs to look for errors or to suggest solutions to error messages. The student can then discuss programming and how to read a program with the instructor and their fellow students, thereby building confidence in creating a program.

FAQ Manual

Have your students create an FAQ manual about the work in their computer science class.

Here are some topics that might be included in the FAQ manual:

  • Samples of errors and solutions for the errors or methods to solve the problem
  • Directions on how to organize files used in building workspaces or projects
  • Directions on how to generate javadoc comments
  • Where to find certain course materials
  • What websites are helpful
  • How to navigate the API

Although the manual may not be completed in the first year, the students will have regular, informal discussions with their classmates while formulating the FAQs and responses. Keep the manual online for all to view.

Company Rules

Students should understand exactly what is expected of them. This includes behavior in the classroom, care and maintenance of equipment, and programming expectations when submitting assignments. Keep a white board (or flip chart) with "Company Rules" posted—that is, rules that students are expected to follow. If a student fails to follow the Company Rules having to do with programming assignments, there is a grade deduction.

Here are some examples of company rules:

  • Begin/end braces—{ }—are each on a separate line.Indentation is important.

    • Indent 3 spaces.
    • Indent body of if-else statements.
    • Indent body of loops.
  • Include javadoc comments before each method. Variable names begin with lowercase letters. If the variable name is two or more words, capitalize the first letter of the second, third, etc.,words. A class name should be a noun and should begin with a capital letter. Method names are verbs and the names follow the same rules that variable names follow. Include the program execution at the end of the .java file in a comment when you submit your assignment. Include your name, period, date, and brief description of the program in a comment at the beginning of your test program.

Rules can (and should) be added to this list as the year goes on. In this way, grading programs is easier because everyone is following the same formatting style. Students know what is expected.

Student-Generated Quizzes

For a particular exam or quiz, have students work in pairs and develop one multiple-choice question and one free-response question for the particular chapter or topic. Each question is submitted on a separate sheet of paper with the solution. This can be done during the class period or assigned as homework. Develop your own questions, as well. Then choose questions from those submitted and create the final form of the quiz or exam.

The students really like this because they feel they are participating in their own test development. With this method, all tests and quizzes contain both multiple-choice and free-response questions so the students become familiar with the AP Exam format.

Questions that are not included on the quiz can be used for review before the AP Exam or for the course’s final exam.