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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Computational Thinking for Problem Solving by University of Pennsylvania

787 ratings
266 reviews

About the Course

Computational thinking is the process of approaching a problem in a systematic manner and creating and expressing a solution such that it can be carried out by a computer. But you don't need to be a computer scientist to think like a computer scientist! In fact, we encourage students from any field of study to take this course. Many quantitative and data-centric problems can be solved using computational thinking and an understanding of computational thinking will give you a foundation for solving problems that have real-world, social impact. In this course, you will learn about the pillars of computational thinking, how computer scientists develop and analyze algorithms, and how solutions can be realized on a computer using the Python programming language. By the end of the course, you will be able to develop an algorithm and express it to the computer by writing a simple Python program. This course will introduce you to people from diverse professions who use computational thinking to solve problems. You will engage with a unique community of analytical thinkers and be encouraged to consider how you can make a positive social impact through computational thinking....

Top reviews


Dec 19, 2018

Excellent course for beginners with enough depth, programming and computational theory to increase their computer science knowledge to a higher level. It builds a good foundation of how computers work


Feb 04, 2019

The course is very well-designed and it helped me develop understand how to apply computational thinking in solving various types of problems as well as acquire basic skills of programming in Python.

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1 - 25 of 264 Reviews for Computational Thinking for Problem Solving

By Jared A

May 10, 2019

The most frustrating learning experience I have ever had. I should not have to google for 70% of what should be taught in the lessons. Quizzes and exercises use material not covered in the lectures.

By Jill N

Oct 09, 2019

The first 3 weeks of the course were great. It really helped change my way of thinking to solve large complex problems. I can use this in my role as a Business Analyst.

The lecturers presented the materials in a clear manner, with real life examples to help the understanding.

Then, came the python coding. The first few modules of the Python section were fine. Then came section 4.7 It was a lot more difficult than the others, and I found that the helpdesk was slow to respond. It took longer than it should have to complete that section, but I pressed on.

Then, there was the final test. Section 4.8. There were some concepts in this exam that were not included in the lecture material. The online help was non-existent. It took DAYS to get a response from the TA in the discussion group. Even then, the response was not particularly helpful. We were then told to send a problem flag to review the code (since we were not allowed to share the code in the discussion group.) I submitted a problem ticket a week ago, and still have not received a response. Keep in mind that I'm not a developer.

I found help in other places, and was finally able to complete the assignment. It's a shame that the problems with the last section of the course seemed to take away from what was otherwise an excellent course.

By Quan M T

Mar 04, 2019

The course is generally good. However, the assignment content and the lecture are not really getting along, especially the Python part. I suggest more "bridging" materials.

By Natalie D

Feb 11, 2019

I thought this course was excellent except for a few small things. I've done a handful of online "learn to code" courses and this was by far the best one to help understand the foundations and actually what you are doing when you code. The videos were really helpful as well as the assignments which I thought were a good balance of challenging but not too challenging. There were two specific things I didn't like as much, particularly the quizzes at the end of each lecture and the format of the delivery of the assignments. I thought that the quizzes were so short that they didn't deliver a ton of value. With respect to the assignments, I thought that the assignments themselves were excellent but the long multi-page PDFs for each coding assignment were overwhelming and often had details buried within them that were really important. I'd recommend a short bulleted summary of requirements up at the top or something to make it clearer. Other than that, I thought this was an excellent course!

By Levi T S

Mar 13, 2019

This course surprised me. As a programmer by trade these are my thoughts...

Week 1 (Problem Solving) - Good for beginners (and scatter brained intermediates).

Week 2 (Algorithms) - This was interesting and professionally useful. Algorithms include: Linear, binary, greedy, and brute force.

Week 3 (Computer Architecture) - Basic outline of how the cpu deals with information and a brief history of computing. Overall not professionally useful, but interesting.

Week 4 (Python Programming) - Brief intro to python and applying what you have learned by writing python scripts. This was the easiest module for me (and probably for anyone with coding experience).

By Terri T

Sep 04, 2019

Everyone will not be able to complete this since it does not offer additional resources that are relevant to the assignments. I tried and will not finish as it has become to time-consuming. I am learning however, there are not examples or help for you if you do not understand the instructions.

By Michael

Apr 21, 2019

Really great course. The professors do an amazing job teaching the fundamentals that can be transferred across all of computer science. Instead of learning one programming language, they instead teach you how to think like a computer scientist, which is far more valuable because it will enable you to "connect the dots" from one language to the next.

By jenn

Jun 25, 2019

Overall, great. However, I think the programming assignments were too hard to just do right off of the lectures. Needed extra research.

By Robert K

Mar 25, 2019

Great course. Good mixture of video lectures, quizzes, and peer graded assignments. Four stars because in some of the assignments it was unclear as to what was being asked or required until you saw the rubric for the first time. I think some items that were asked for in the rubrics were not obvious/inferable from the prompts.

By Matt B

Jul 31, 2019

Impossible to get any feedback. Very hard to follow what the requirements are at the end.

By Carl T

Jul 15, 2020

Disappointing, frustrating course. The professors are likeable and engaging and the videos are well done, but I found this to be an unpleasant learning experience for the following reasons: 1. The videos are very brief and rush through details without enough background explanation or elaboration. 2. The quizzes test you on things that were mentioned in one sentence or less in the video, and seem designed just to trip you up rather than help you learn by quizzing you on the main points in the lecture. 3. The peer review projects don't always correspond to the lecture. All of a sudden you are doing an assembly language project, for example, with no prior instruction. And unlike peer-review projects in other online courses, the rubric and grading instructions are very picky: You need to not just demonstrate that you understand the concepts, you need to do the project perfectly, in the way a computer scientist professor with years of experience would. There are too many of these projects, too. 4. The Python module/week tries to cover in one week the material that beginning Python courses would cover over many weeks or months, and it is all done from the vantage point of an experienced, advance programmer. (If you want to learn Python, start with Dr. Chuck!)

I suspect that the fundamental problem with this course is "the Curse of Knowledge." The creators of the course have been doing this for so long, at such a high level, that they truly don't understand the perspective of a beginner. The concepts are so basic, so obvious to them. The math so self-explanatory. So the material is delivered in a rush, with the assumption that it will be equally obvious and clear to everyone.

By Sheree C

Jun 17, 2020

I had a HORRIBLE experience. This course was suggested by my school as pre-study material. I did learn some information, which matters the most. I ended up finding an online tutoring service which was teaching me in week 4...which cost $100. I probably wouldn't have had to get the tutor if the discussion threads were even a little bit useful. Honestly that was the most frustrating part. The staff has 48 hours to respond .... if they even do (I had my last post deleted by the staff). I believe I posted 3 times in the threads for assistance, The responses I did receive were not the least bit helpful. Next complaint, the homework said it should take 20 minutes to complete. Nothing ever took me 20 minutes to complete, more like 5-6+ hours minimum. Then peer reviewed assignments. How am I grading someones assignment when I barely understood what I was doing myself.

By Colin R

Jun 13, 2020

Thank you, Susan and Chris, for making this course! I took this course for free so I didn't have access to things like quiz grades or have the ability to submit assignments. I still did the quizzes and I made sure the code worked on the assignments so I think you don't need to pay for this course if you just want to learn. I appreciate that the instructors progressed from easy to gradually harder material until I was making complex algorithms (well, complex compared to what we started with). This course gave me an appreciation for computational thinking and I'm entirely convinced that this will be an important skill that everyone should have for humans to progress. I already have ideas to use computational thinking to improve my job as a kitchen cleaner for myself and others who take this job after I'm done with it. I plan to learn more about coding so that I can solve more problems. Thanks again for making this course available online for free.

By Krishna M

Jan 06, 2019

I loved this course on computational thinking. Unlike other courses which focused only on a specific programming language (such as Python), this course gave me a deep dive into computational thinking, a foundation learning, behind any types of programming. Not having a computer science background, but having done some Python experience, I lacked the basic concepts of computational thinking. This course provided just that! It covered pillars of computational thinking, simple algorithms, flowcharts, pseudocode, memory usage in CPU as it relates to programming concepts, and introduction to Python. The course includes several quizzes, but most importantly, great assignments that helped me solidify my understanding of the course material. A highly recommend this course even if you have not worked with any programming languages before!

P.S. If you have never worked with Python before, I would recommend keeping aside some extra time during Week 4.

By Irina M

Dec 19, 2018

Thank you very much for introducing me to the world of Computer Science! Having nothing to do with Computer Science before, I took this course as it sounded very interesting and I thought it may be something I can take interest in. I am looking for a career change and the worst thing for me was not to completely understand what kind of job I would enjoy doing other than teaching, or real estate. I am happy my research led me to this amazing course that introduces people just like me to some basic ideas of Computer Science. My goal is to enroll into the MCIT ONLINE program, this program sounds very interesting to me especially after taking this course. Thank you very much for coming up with the idea of creating Computational Thinking course and the degree for people with non-Computer Science background!

By Bartek

Aug 25, 2019

I highly recommend taking this course, whether you are aspiring to be a developer, looking for a better way to solve problems at your job or school, or are interested in computational thinking. I apply concepts from this course - drawing flow charts and writing pseudocode - at my job as a Salesforce Admin and noticed that I can solve harder problems quicker. The only thing that did not work out for me a couple of times was that assignments are peer-graded. As a result, I failed two assignments on a first try when I was positive that my solutions were correct. If that happens to you, just make sure that you resubmit the assignment and eventually one of the peers who understand your solution will be able to grade it correctly.

Many thanks to the instructors and the team who put this class together!

By Byron D

Dec 29, 2019

I really enjoyed the course; however, I feel the last module (week 4 / phyton) does not have enough explanations and examples in order to properly complete the assignments. I had to research on my own and complete phyton trainings at other sites in order to successfully complete the projects. Thanks for the course and I look forward to applying to MCIT.

By Adam K

Feb 23, 2020

Great course! The python in week 4 can be incredibly challenging to those who have no prior experince in coding. There are times that it felt like the course didn't properly cover certain functions or code that would have made the assignments much easier. However, the overall instruction and semi-gentile emersion into computer science are excellent.

By Dhouglas C

Nov 03, 2018

Finally Professors that know how to teach over video. Easy to digest examples, study cases with cc explaining how the voice over relates to the theory. It seems the University of Penn has entered the online course market to make a difference.

By Jerrold

Dec 19, 2018

Excellent course for beginners with enough depth, programming and computational theory to increase their computer science knowledge to a higher level. It builds a good foundation of how computers work

By Manan S

May 05, 2020

A really well-taught course by astute professors. Its assignments are to the point and not much abstract with good amount of challenging questions especially the last module of the course

By Garret B

Oct 01, 2019

Very well thought out. This course covers simple concepts while still being engaging and challenging. Examples from varying disciplines help illustrate concepts in a real-life context.

By Raymond G L K

Nov 02, 2019

Course content is good, graded assignments are good, I just had problems with my assignments in week 4 as I easily became confused with the implementation of all the lessons combined.

By Deleted A

Nov 18, 2018

An excellent bridge into introductory computer science topics. Professors Susan Davidson and Chris Murphy exposed learners to computer science concepts within everyday problems.

By Bobby M

Feb 15, 2019

Thoroughly enjoyed the course. If you are new to computer science or need a refresher of the basic concepts you learned in high school / college, this is the perfect course