Computer Science 120
Introduction to Programming

Spring 2011, Siena College



Dr. James D. Teresco, Roger Bacon 332, (518) 783-4171
Electronic mail: jteresco AT (best contact method)
Class URL: [Link]
Class hour: Tuesday, Thursday 1:00-2:20, Roger Bacon 328
Lab meetings: Wednesday 9:20-11:20 or 1:30-3:30, Roger Bacon 330
Office hours: Tues 2:30-4:30, Fri 10:30-11:30, by appointment


Everything on this syllabus is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and updated in the online version of the syllabus.

Course Objectives

From the course catalog: "An introduction to the object-oriented design paradigm with an emphasis on problem solving, algorithm development, and implementation of algorithms in computer programs in an object-oriented language, such as Java or C++. Other topics will include hardware organization, data representation, system software, programming style, program testing, and analysis of algorithms."

Course Goals

  1. To enhance the student's problem-solving abilities.
  2. To develop the student's ability to develop programming solutions.
  3. To enable the student to translate algorithmic solutions to a Java implementation.
  4. To help the student acquire knowledge about computing systems in general.
  5. To continue the student's introduction to the academic discipline of Computer Science.

Missions and Learning Goals

Please be sure you are familiar with the following statements of mission and learning goals by visiting these links:



The required text for the course is Java: An Eventful Approach (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006, ISBN 0-13-142415-7) by Bruce, Danyluk, and Murtagh. This is available from the Siena Bookstore (and elsewhere).

Many students in computer science courses find their textbooks difficult to read and digest. Unfortunately, reading a technical document such as a computer science textbook is very different and more challenging than most of the readings you need to do for your other classes. One approach you may wish to try is to read each chapter three times.

  1. On the first pass, quickly go through the chapter looking for the key ideas and the words that appear over and over. Make lists of these words. Mark key passages. However, do not worry about the technical details.
  2. The second pass is the thorough pass. Read the text carefully asking yourself questions. Type every programming example into the programming software and test that it works as advertised. Save these in case you wish to go back to them again. Carefully introduce small errors in the software you have just typed in. See what happens. Does the program run but give wrong answers? Does the program fail to run and give an error message? In this case, can you relate the error you introduced to the message?
  3. The third pass is to go quickly back through the chapter once more to make sure you grasp all the ideas thoroughly.


Everyone is expected to attend class and participate in discussions. Supplemental readings are listed on the lecture and reading schedule. Of course you are encouraged to do the reading, but all important topics will be covered in class.

Be prompt, prepared, and ready to focus on the day's topics. This should go without saying, but this means your phones and other devices not being used exclusively to follow along with class materials and/or to take notes must be powered off. You may bring food or drink to class, as long as you are not a distraction to your classmates or instructor.

Most lectures will include a small assignment due at the start of the next class. Some lectures will begin with a short pop quiz. No late submissions of these "lecture assignments" or quizzes will be accepted, as they will often be discussed in class on the due date or immediately following the quiz. Some assignments will be graded for correctness, while others will be graded based on whether an honest effort was made.

The lecture and reading schedule has a link to a web page for each lecture highlighting the day's topics, listing class examples, and the lecture assignment due the next class. The notes used to guide in-class presentations are also available as PDF files linked from the lecture and reading schedule.

Labs and Programming Projects

Labs are held on Wednesdays in Roger Bacon 330. There may not be formal lab meetings every week, but attendance is required for the formal meetings. Typically, lab assignments will be handed out in class a few days before a lab meeting. There will usually be a pre-lab activity for you to complete before coming to lab to make the lab time as productive as possible. It may be possible to complete some labs during the meeting, but most of the time you will need to continue to work on your own and turn them in a few days later. You may develop your programs anywhere (Computers in the labs, your own PC, etc.) but grading will be done using the Siena Computer Science Windows or Macintosh systems unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform. Programs will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency. For regular labs, you are permitted (and in fact, encouraged) to get help from the Computer Science tutors and from your instructor. You may discuss the labs with your classmates, but the work you submit must be your own (and that of your partner, since you will usually work in pairs).

There will also be two formal programming projects. These projects will test the skills that you have developed in class and during regular lab assignments. They are to be treated as take-home exams, so you may only use the resources specifically permitted and may only discuss your approach and your solutions with your instructor.

Unless otherwise specified, late lab and project work may be turned in with a penalty computed as 1.08h%, where h is the number of hours late. Extensions will only be granted in serious situations and requests must be accompanied by written documentation from the appropriate college office (e.g., Academic Affairs for family emergencies, Student Affairs for personal illness). You can find a Java program that prints out a table of the late penalties here. Work turned in after solutions have been made available cannot receive credit. All assignments are to be submitted electronically unless otherwise specified. Please submit plain text where appropriate and PDF otherwise. Please avoid other formats such as Word documents. If in doubt about a file format, please check first. Keep a copy of all submissions for yourself.


There will be two exams: a midterm and a final. The midterm will take place the evening of March 8 (the week before spring break). The final exam will be scheduled by the Registrar's office during the regular exam period.


Grades for individual assignments and exams are not scaled. Any scaling deemed appropriate will take place at the end of the semester by adjusting the above thresholds. The following thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.


Lecture Assignments/Quizzes 15% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
Lab Programs 25% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
Programming Projects 25% C+ >= 77% C >= 73% C- >= 70%
Midterm Exam 15% D+ >= 67% D >= 63% D- >= 60%
Final Exam 20% F < 60%

To earn a grade of C- or better in this course, you must have an average of C- or better on the examinations and projects, regardless of performance on labs and other assignments.

Academic Integrity

You are encouraged to discuss the concepts related to course assignments and exams with your classmates. This is an essential part of a healthy academic environment. However, work submitted for grading must be your own (or the combined work of group members, for group assignments). Any unauthorized copying or collaboration is considered a breach of academic integrity and will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty cases are unpleasant and uncomfortable for everyone involved. You are responsible for reading and understanding the College Catalog Statement on Academic Integrity and the Computer Science Department's Academic Integrity statement. The minimum penalties for a first violation will include failure (0 grade) for the assignment or exam in question and the filing of a Academic Integrity Violation Accusation Form. A second violation will result in failure of the course and a formal letter describing your misconduct will be sent to the head of the Computer Science Department and the Office of Academic Affairs.

If there is any doubt about the degree of collaboration allowed or the permitted sources for a particular assignment, please ask for clarification before collaborating or consulting the source. Any such collaborations or sources must be cited properly.

Additional College Policies

Please be sure you are familiar with the following College policies by visiting these links: