The Introductory Programming Laboratory (IPL) in Mary Gates Hall is the principal lab for CSE142 and CSE143. Front-line consultants for both courses are available most of the time that the lab is open. This note is a brief description of the kinds of help you can expect and what you need to do to best take advantage of it.
The consultants' goal is to provide quick help when you're stuck, to get you past that roadblock so you can continue to make progress on your own.
All programmers get stuck from time to time - that's part of the process. It can be extremely helpful to talk things over with a colleague or have someone look at your code and point out places that might be a problem. A consultant can serve as a sounding board and a source of advice and ideas, but ultimately you are the one who has to track down and fix problems when they occur.
When you work with a consultant, you should be able to ...
Being able to articulate exactly how you expect a program to behave isn't easy at first - in fact, it's a big part of learning to program. But it is important that you be able to describe what you are trying to do. One of the key ways a consultant can help you track down problems is by identifying possible inconsistencies between the code and your explanation.
There is no way that you will remember all of these details in your head. You need to include comments in your code to record these things. Consultants will not try to help you reconstruct this information from raw, uncommented code, and will move on to another student who is prepared.
If you want a consultant to help you with a bug, you are expected to try to track it down yourself and gather evidence first. Most of the time you'll be able to discover the problem yourself, and, if you can't, you'll have the information the consultant needs to help you. If something is wrong,
The consultant may ask you to work through a short checklist before asking for help to make sure you have taken the first steps toward solving your problem.
Finally, be a good citizen. For instance, don't keep putting your workstation number on the list if you don't really need help right then (if the same number appears more than once on the list of students waiting for help, the consultant will erase all but the last occurrence).