Instructor Insights

Instructor Insights pages are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Instructor Insights

In the following video Chris Terman describes various aspects of how he taught 6.004 Computation Structures.

An Interview with Christopher Terman on Teaching Computation Structures

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A woman and a man talking in a room.
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

  • Students should feel comfortable using computers. A rudimentary knowledge of programming language concepts and electrical fundamentals is assumed.

Requirements Satisfied

Offered

Every fall and spring semester

The Classroom

  • A view of the lecture hall from the back left corner of the room, looking down toward the lectern and chalkboards.

    Lecture

    Lectures were held in a room equipped with tiered seats for 425, with multiple chalkboards and an A/V system.

  • A view of the recitation room, looking toward the chalkboard from the end of one of the rows of chairs.

    Recitation

    Recitations were held in a classroom equipped with tablet armchairs for 35, with a chalkboard and an A/V system.

 

Assessment

Grade Breakdown

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by quizzes. 56% Quizzes
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by labs. 35% Labs (nonzero score required on each lab)
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by design project. 9% Design project

Student Information

197 students took this course when it was taught in Spring 2017.

Enrollment

Between 2008 and 2018, the enrollment for 6.004 rose from about 100 to 200-300 per semester.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly sophomores, but also others, ranging from freshmen to graduate students.

Breakdown by Major

About 4/5 Electrical Engineering and Computer Science majors, 1/5 other.

Typical Student Background

Some students came to the class with prior experience in programming and some understanding of how computers are structured; others came knowing little more than how to use a browser.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

2 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session;  24 sessions total.
  • Class sessions were lecture-based and focused on the engineering of digital systems.
 

Recitation

2 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session; 26 sessions total.
  • Recitation groups contained 20-30 students on average and allowed students to work through practice problems and ask questions of the recitation instructors.
 

Out of Class

8 hours per week
  • Outside of class, students completed seven lab assignments, worked through the online materials and practice problems in the MITx version of the course, and prepared a design project.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled.
3 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
4 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation and quiz scheduled.
5 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
6 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
7 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation and quiz scheduled.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
10 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
11 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Recitation scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Recitation and quiz scheduled.
12 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
13 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Lecture scheduled and a lab or project due. Recitation scheduled.
14 No session scheduled. Lecture scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Recitation scheduled. Recitation and quiz scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled, but a lab or project due. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when labs or projects are due. Labs or projects due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are held. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when quiz is held. Quiz