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My family is looking for a programming/computer science tutor.

Personally, I want to learn Java or some other brand of web programming. I am best described as a PC "power user." I have never programmed in the past and would like a good jump start. I am a very quick learner and do not expect the tutor to have to teach me the ultra basic stuff that I can learn myself.

My son also needs a programming tutor. He just got into Carnegie Mellon as a computer science major. Having done only robotics and mathematics in the past he is very nervous that he does not have the same level of knowledge as his future classmates.

I need some help coming up with a list of questions to ask potential tutors and some criteria to judge them by.

Thanks!

Edit: So far I have come up with just the obvious...

  1. Where did you receive your education?
  2. What languages are you familiar with?
  3. How long have you been tutoring?
  4. What made you decide to become a tutor?
  5. What software projects have you worked on?
  6. What work references can you give me?
  7. How much do you charge?
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What questions have you come up with? –  Bernard Mar 18 '12 at 15:48
    
Edited my post to answer that. –  Mike Mar 18 '12 at 15:51
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Have you tried getting a book? Have you looked at codeyear.com ? –  mhoran_psprep Mar 18 '12 at 15:54
    
Interesting - I'll check it out. I have tried books in the past and I think that if I had someone to ask questions and explain my mistakes the whole process would be much faster. This is especially true in my son's case. –  Mike Mar 18 '12 at 15:57
    
I think the answer to your "What made you decide to become a tutor?" question would be very important. –  pllee Mar 18 '12 at 19:00
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closed as off topic by Thomas Owens Mar 19 '12 at 23:43

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3 Answers

You are looking for 2 things: what should I learn (you said java or some other brand of web programming), and how good are you at teaching me that skill. of the seven questions you listed:

    1. Where did you receive your education?
    2. What languages are you familiar with?
    3. How long have you been tutoring?
    4. What made you decide to become a tutor?
    5. What software projects have you worked on?
    6. What work references can you give me?
    7. How much do you charge?

Number 7, money, is very important. Questions 3, 4 , and 6 are very important. The other questions don't tell you if they can teach. Question 2 is also important. But the answer you are looking for depends on how set you are on a particular language. Questions 1 and 5 are filler questions. Do you care if he said MIT or community college? You are unlikely to recognize projects they have worked on. Even if they said Facebook, you must realize that it is a large project.

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Tutors are typically booked an hour or two at a time, like music instructors. The OP will find out soon enough whether the person can teach. –  kevin cline Mar 19 '12 at 18:43
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If you want a real good programmer that understands the consepts of programming he should be familiare with different types of languages. Knowing many different programming languages will also improve the tutoring since some parts are easier to show and learn in a different language. My oppinion is a real good programmer should be familiar with at least one languages from each of this four categories.

  • Imperative/Machine language like C or assembly
  • Object Oriented Language like java, php, C# or C++
  • Functional language like Lisp, Scheme, F# or Haskell
  • Scripting languages like Bash, Perl, Python, Ruby
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I wouldn't really classify PHP, C#, or C++ as object-oriented. If you want a truly object-oriented language I would go with Ruby. –  Bryan Dunsmore Mar 18 '12 at 20:17
    
Well C# and PHP are typical object oriented languages with classes encapsylation and inherance. C++ is a object orientated language but are often programmed imperative because many C++ programmers have a C background –  nist Mar 18 '12 at 20:22
    
I understand that many languages support different styles of programming. Just because the shoe fits doesn't mean it matches. –  Bryan Dunsmore Mar 18 '12 at 20:28
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@dunsmoreb You would classify Java as OO but not C# or C++? O_o –  maple_shaft Mar 19 '12 at 11:06
    
@maple_shaft Not really. I'm just a lot more scared of them; there is power in numbers. O_o Oh my god. Did I just say that aloud? RUN –  Bryan Dunsmore Mar 21 '12 at 0:04
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Asking about if the person is involved in open source can provide some information on the general interest in programming (guess this is partly covered by your question number 5).

You can also ask if he/she has written articles, this can be blogs or magazine, research papers etc., this also shows a certain interest and is something you can look up.

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I didn't think that involvement in open source has anything to do with skill level... does it? I like the idea about articles/research papers though. –  Mike Mar 18 '12 at 16:10
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You are right, it does not necessarily provide any information on skill level. However, it does show a certain interest in programming. –  Jarle Hansen Mar 18 '12 at 16:12
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