University of Alaska Anchorage
CSCE A101: Introduction to Computer Science (3 cr)

Course Syllabus, Spring 2024 Textbook

Course Description: Provides a broad overview of computer science and programming. Topics include introduction to programming, algorithmic problem solving and basic concepts in hardware. Demonstrates the role computation can play in solving useful problems as well as present programming concepts that enable students to write simple programs.
Special Note: This course is intended for students with little or no programming experience.

Instructor Goals:  The instructor will:

Student Outcomes: Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

zyBooks Participation and Challenge Activities:These are interactive coding activities that are completed on the zyBooks platform. The idea is to read the material in the book and immediately apply what you have learned to reinforce the concepts. The participation activities are generally quite short, while the challenge activities are longer and usually require you to write a working program. The zyBooks readings and Participation Activities will be assigned for completion prior to the day of the lab when the content is needed, or prior to a lecture for the week the material is discussed. I set a due date of the end of the semester for all of the Challenge Activities, but recommend you complete them as you encounter them in the chapter.

For the zyBook Participation Activities and Challenge Activities, you may skip up to 10% of them with no penalty. For example, if at the end of the course you receive a score of 80% for the Participation Activities, this will get bumped up to 90% when entered in Blackboard to compute the final grade.  If you have a score of 100% it will get bumped up to 110% to give you a small amount of extra credit.   There is no late credit for any zyBook work.

zyLabs and other Labs:About every week on the last lecture day we will have a lab activity. We'll reserve about 30 minutes of class time for the lab. Usually these will be a zyLab activity on the zyBooks platform, but sometimes we'll have a lab outside of zyBooks. If you are up to date on the readings then these should be fairly short, but it will give you a chance to ask for help if you are stuck. Once you complete the lab or if you complete the lab beforehand then you are free to go! The lab will be due at 11:59 PM on Fridays so you will have some extra time to finish the lab if you were not able to finish it in class.

Homework Assignments: Due on Blackboard by the posted date/time. These will generally be larger assignments than the zyBooks activities and labs. Approximately four homework assignments will be given. Late homework will be penalized 10% per day late up until the date solutions are posted. Unless otherwise indicated, programming assignments and written assignments must represent your own work. It is permissible to discuss the assignments with other students, but do not discuss the solution (more under student code of conduct).

Computing Labs: Most of you will likely elect to work on your own computer. The zyBooks material can be completed through a web browser. Other assignments will require a local python installation, and is available on Windows, Mac, or Linux. If desired, the engineering labs have Windows and python installed, or you can connect to the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which is a virtual machine with an image of the engineering lab software. EIB 202 and ECB 206 are open computer labs. ECB 201, 202, 203, 209 and EIB 401 are computer classrooms but you can use them for general purpose use when classes are not in session. Note that other computing labs on campus likely won't have python installed, but you can access zyBooks from a web browser.

Important note: To access the VDI from outside of the campus network, you need to be on UAA's VPN (Virtual Private Network). In this context, the VPN uses your login credentials to make an encrypted tunnel between your computer and UAA's network, and accessing the Internet while on the VPN will appear as a UAA IP address. You can download the VPN client here: In addition, you will need to authenticate with multifactor authentication. UAA uses Duo. Instructions on setting up MFA with Duo are here: Finally, note that the VDI is a virtual machine that is spun-up each login session. This means that your files/changes are not saved from session to session!  If you need to save files, I recommend saving to a google drive or other network drive.

Development Environment: There are many Integrated Developer Environments (IDE) to write python programs. If you are using your own computer then you should install and set up an environment for python development.

Tutors: We normally have some seasoned CS&E students working as tutors.  Their schedule will be posted on the College of Engineering Tutoring Page. You can also ask questions in the general CS&E discord server,, and we have a channel specifically for the class. Tutors may also have online hours on discord.

Questions: If you have any questions, feel free to come in to my office.  In general, I have an open door policy -- if I am available in my office, you are welcome to come by.  You can also email or send me a message on the discord server, both of which are preferred over telephone.

Grading: Letter grade. There will be three exams, two midterms and a final exam. Unless prior arrangements are made no make-up exams will be given. The exams will be the old-fashioned-writing-on-paper type of test and will also be closed-book, and closed-computer. If you require a make-up exam or believe that you will need to take an exam in an alternative time slot, you must inform the instructor at least a day before the exam.  If you miss an exam due to unforeseen circumstances, you must provide documentation of the emergency that prevented you from attending the exam. The decision as to whether a student qualifies for a make-up exam is left to the discretion of the instructor.

Grading breakdown:

zyBooks Participation Activities7%
zyBooks Challenge Activities8%
Homework Assignments25%
Midterm 115%
Midterm 215%

The grade scale is a traditional 90-100 for A, 80-89 for B, 70-79 for C, 60-69 for D, and anything else an F.  The grading curve may be lowered if necessary but it will not be raised.  This means that if you received an 89% then you will at least get a B, but may receive a higher grade based on the curve.

An incomplete grade will only be given for a valid excuse (e.g. medical, death in the family). An incomplete grade does not let you take the class over again, your final grade will be assigned based on work submitted in class and work that remains to be submitted. A no-basis (NB) grade may be issued for students that submit nothing but did not drop the class.

Student Code of Conduct:

The UAA Student Code of Conduct prohibits plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, aiding academic dishonesty.  A key element of this code is that students will not plagiarize which means you may not use someone else's words, pictures, ideas, or solutions as your own.  For programming or scripting assignments, basic concepts such as syntax, manipulating a data type, or built-in functions can be looked up and used without attribution.  Any ideas or solutions that you find online or elsewhere must be cited by including the full url or other reference in a comment of your programming code.

Note that zyBooks automatically compares your submitted code with your classmates' submissions and online sources and flags plagiarism. Never copy-paste your program to any forum, other than a few lines; posting a Challenge Activity or zyLab problem or solution to sites like Chegg, CourseHero, Gitub, etc. is not allowed, is academic dishonesty, and violates zyBooks' terms of use. You can privately show a buggy program to a helper, but a helper should never show you any of their code. I am required to report all suspected cases of cheating and plagiarism to the Dean of Students, after which academic sanctions and/or disciplinary sanctions may be levied: Students found to have plagiarized will receive a score of 0 for the item in question in addition to sanctions imposed by the Dean of Students. A second offense will result in an F for the course and possibly additional consequences by the Dean of Students. Please, make my life and yours easier: don't be a cheater!

A common instance of cheating is when student 1 asks student 2 for help, and student 2, either voluntarily, involuntarily, or perhaps under pressure, shows student 1 their code solution to a problem. Student 1 simply copies the work and turns it in as their own, often without understanding how the code works. If Student 1's cheating is discovered then now both students have violated the academic integrity policy.

Other examples of cheating:

If you feel that talking to someone about an assignment may lead to a similar solution being flagged as a potential violation then you should document the consultation in the header comment of your program.

Some examples of not cheating:

 The Code of Conduct also prohibits physical, verbal, or sexual harassment and requires students and faculty to maintain a supportive learning environment without disruptions. Cases of plagiarism and other violations of the UAA Student Code of Conduct will not be tolerated.

Student Equity and Compliance:

The Office of Equity and Compliance ensures that UAA adheres to a safe, equitable, and healthy environment. If you experience a disability or suspect you may experience a disability, please contact Disability Support Services in RH 112 (phone 907-786-4530) in a timely manner so that your needs can be addressed. Depending on your needs this may include additional time or alternative testing accommodations. UAA is committed to providing equal access to learning opportunities for students with documented disabilities. To ensure access to this class, and your program, please contact DSS to engage in a confidential conversation about the process for requesting accommodations.

Care Team Support for Students:

If you, or someone you know, needs support, is distressed, or exhibits concerning behavior, help by making a referral to the Care Team. The UAA CareTeam's purpose is to promote a safe and productive learning, living and working environment by addressing the needs of students. As your Faculty, I may contact the Care Team to seek support for you.  I encourage you to fill out a referral if you or a classmate may be in need of help.

Contact info for the Care Team to submit a Care Report (referral) online: if an emergency-- call UPD or 911.

The University also has resources for any student facing adequate food or safe housing. If you experience such challenges, please connect with the UAA Emergency Food Cache via the Student Health and Counseling Center in Rasmuson 120 or by phone at 907-786-4040. For other types of situations, additional resources are available at the Dean of Students Office in Rasmuson 122, 907-786-1214, and via the UAA Seawolf Food Pantry in PSB 212.

Academic Rights of Students:  The Academic Dispute Resolution Procedure is in the UAA Catalog here:

Title IX:

The University of Alaska is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer, educational institution and provider. The University of Alaska does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, citizenship, age, sex, physical or mental disability, status as a protected veteran, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, parenthood, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation or belief, genetic information, or other legally protected status. The University's commitment to nondiscrimination, including against sex discrimination, applies to students, employees, and applicants for admission and employment. Contact information, applicable laws, and complaint procedures are included on UA's statement of nondiscrimination.

For more information, contact:

If you experience discrimination, you are encouraged (but not required) to report the incident to the UAA Office of Equity and Compliance or call 907-786-0818. You also may make an anonymous report online.

For confidential support and advocacy related to rape or power-based personal violence, students can also contact STAR Alaska at 907-276-7273 or 800-478-8999 (toll-free). The UAA Office of Equity and Compliance website also includes a list of confidential resources for support and advocacy.

You can make anonymous reports regarding discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking, or retaliation. For emergencies, contact UPD at 8-911 from a campus phone or 911 from a cell phone.