For EMSE program, I had heard that FUB was the most difficult to graduate comparing with the other three universities in the program. I was not sure how students compared these universities because each student studied in only 2 universities. Well, on the first week of the first semester, I was told by the professor that the first year was the most difficult one especially the first semester and after finishing the first year, the rest was quite simple. I was not sure if it meant that FUB was the most difficult one. Maybe the professor was telling me that the first year was more difficult than the second year.
Well, until now I still am not sure about the “difficult” thing. But, what I knew was there were so many classes each week. I had classes almost everyday.
The most difficult course for me would be software process management (SPM). In this course, I learned the process to develop software, maintain software, and so on.
Actually the course itself was not difficult, but the teacher could make it difficult. And this course is a compulsory course for EMSE students, so I could not drop this course.
On the first day of the course, the teacher told us the course objectives and coursework. The grade was evaluated from project and oral exam. For project, we could either do it alone or work in pair, but no more than 2 students in a group. I chose to work with my friend. We had to submit the progress every week to the lab teacher which meant we had homework every week. And I spent many hours with this project!
For oral exam, I had never had this experience before, I was very worried. How could I not worry? The teacher would ask me only 2 questions and I had to answer the questions correctly; saying something else would not help. I heard that there was one student trying to answer the question and the teacher said that “Stop, You failed”. This rumor made me more worry. Besides, I also knew a student who failed this course for 5 times.
On the second day of the course, things were getting worse. Well, ok, I meant only my feeling. Some students came late and the teacher said “If you want to come, please come on time”. Because of the rumor and also the teacher, I had never skipped the class and never come late. And I hoped that he would be nice on the exam date.
I remembered that we had more than 10 students on the first day of the class. After studying for a while, some students dropped. Finally there were only 5 students in the class including me and all of us were in software engineering program (which meant we could not drop this course).
There was one day that the teacher invited his friend to give us a presentation, so on that day it seemed like we had two teachers in the class. Well, my friends skipped the class. There were only 2 students in the class. It was like a one-on-one class. I had never studied in the class with only 2 students like this before.
At FUB, almost of the courses students needed to have an exam (either written exam or oral exam) and do a project. And in case that we failed for the exam, we just had to prepare for the exam (we did not have to do the project again). But, SPM is an exception course. If we had failed for the exam, we would have done the project again. The project took me a lot of time, so I did not want to fail.
One more reason that made me more worry was as an EMSE student, for the first year I needed to complete at least 52 credits. And if I had failed more than 2 times on the same course, I would have been off from the program.
For the project, after submitting the progress every week, we had to present what we did to the teacher. The teacher would ask us questions. We could not help each other. If the teacher asked me, my partner could not help me. Students needed to know every part of the project.
How cruel it was…. and the teacher asked me the parts that my partner did, and asked my partner the part that I did. Well, we both passed!!!
But it did not mean we passed the course. After that we needed to prepare for the oral exam. I studied extremely hard and I was wonder. What if I knew almost everything about the course except those two questions that he asked? At that time, I thought it was not an effective evaluation system at all.
On the oral exam date, things were not like I expected. To be precise, it was better than I expected. The teacher was so nice (nicer than he was before); it seemed like he knew that students were excited. And, he did not come alone; He came with a lab teacher. And, both of them asked us 2 questions. So, in total we were asked 4 questions. Ok, more chance to pass!
And, the questions were not in details. The teachers started from the concept of the topic and followed by some related questions. So, it was not exactly 4 questions; it was more than that. The lab teacher was so cute. There was one question from a lab teacher that I could not explain it clearly, but he gave me a clue!
After the exam, I felt that if students could not answer, they deserved to study again. If the students understand the concept of the course, they can answer the questions for sure!
Finally, I passed…and many students also passed.
For every course, at the end of the semester, there would be a survey asking students in order to improve the course. For this course, the teacher impressed me by asking us in the class. We told him what we liked and what we did not like. I thought it was WAY much better than just filling the survey.
Finally, before ending the course, the teacher told us that for this course he just wanted us to understand the concept of software development. So, we could study further by ourselves.
And I liked what he said. Yes, we should understand it, not just memorize it. This was totally different from the way I learned in Thailand; there were so many courses that I had to study hard, memorize a lot, and forget everything when the exams were over.
One more thing, I accidentally learned that… sometimes the rumor was inaccurate and exaggerated!!!