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September 22, 2009 / Ben Chun

Modulo Understanding

On Monday, a bit tired and underprepared, I spontaneously decided to give a brief explanation of the mod operator to my Intro to Programming class. Then at the end of the hour, I had them write down their understanding of it for me. In the business, we call these quick check-in activities “formative assessments” but as the evidence will show they should clearly be renamed “hilarious varieties of misunderstanding”. Here are a few answers I got:

1. The % operator operates the function, which will command the setup.

2. the % is to put a position for a shape and its sequence.

3. You can use the % sign to break down that number into a something you can work with. You know, your the one who taught it to me! I just can’t explain it.

4. The % operation calculates numbers for you, so you don’t have to, and it also keeps everything on the screen.

On the other hand, some of them did end up with a decent grasp of the idea:

1. Modulo works by converting, giving you specific numbers from a broad range of numbers.

2. % divides a number, and takes only the value of its remainder.

3. Divides a number by what you define and gets the remainder.

4. The % operator is called “modulo” or “mod”. It is used to determine the remainder when we divide two numbers.

Perhaps the real story here is that all of these kids were in the same room at the same time listening to the same teacher say the same stuff and that’s how different the results came out. I’m not sure exactly what there is to do except forge ahead.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. bookwoman / Sep 29 2009 6:41 pm

    Not unlike playing “telephone”. What goes in one ear is not necessarily what comes out another’s mouth.

  2. Ben Chun / Sep 30 2009 2:39 pm

    Hah, I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Almost like the “Reconstruction of Automobile Deconstruction” experiments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_of_automobile_destruction

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