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I am giving my first lecture at university. The topic is about Big Data and takes 40 hours (1 hour = 60 minutes). I am wondering how to test the students. I am at this university for the first time and I have no idea how full the student's schedule is and how good they are. I am also not sure how many students I will have, but I think it should be between 20 to 30. I think they are going to be at the end of their Bachelor / beginning of Master.


I see three options:

1. written exam

It's the least amount of work for the students (only learning) - which might be a good thing if their schedule is very full.

Disadvantages: They learn the least I think.

2. presentation

I'd let the students present a topic - probably a software technology that wasn't part of my lecture so far.

Advantages are that

  • they learn more,
  • they learn research technologies (I've been working in the industry for a while and researching how technologies work is an important part of the work in this area, so it's a real-live skill in itself).

Disadvantages are

  • that it might get difficult for me to judge their effort in terms of grades,
  • it might take quite some time for them to prepare (issue if their schedules are really full),
  • they might not be able to find good information and might not have the skills to put the information into a good presentation.

3. project

I'd have them do a small software project.

Advantages are that they would gain practical experience.

Disadvantages might be that

  • these take quite a lot of time,
  • it might get difficult for me to judge their effort in terms of grades,
  • the projects might fail if they are not proficient enough, which might be rather frustrating.


I tend to take either 2 or 3 since - back in the day - I learned most from those and little from tests. However I fear that those might fail, because the students don't have the time or skills to excel in those.

For 2 and 3 I would put the students into groups.

I might be able to decide after the first week of lecture, but not just before the course ends.

Going out to fellow professors, lecturers etc.:

  1. What are your experiences? What options would you suggest? What do I have to consider?
  2. If I'd take 2 or 3: How many students should a group have approximately (minimum, maximum)?
  3. Can I simply ask them how they would like to get tested?

1 Answer 1

I think, If you want to check a student in cs, you should ask architectural question like if you have to make train booking system how you will design complete architecture.