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CS-101 EL --- Fall 2015

CS-101 Basics of Computer Science

This is a LASC course and can be taken to satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Credit and Contact Hours

3 credits (Online)

Catalog Course Description

A survey course that provides a foundation in the field of Computer Science by presenting a practical and realistic understanding of the field.


Dr. Karl R. Wurst
See for contact information and schedule.

Meeting Times and Locations


It's in the Syllabus

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*Computer Science Illuminated, Sixth edition*
Nell Dale and John Lewis
Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781284055917
Textbook website

Required Materials

In addition to the textbook, to successfully complete this course you will need:

  1. Computer: You will need a computer that you can use at home. The brand and operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) is unimportant – the software we will be using runs on all major operating systems and most of it can be downloaded for free or low cost. The software you will need installed:
    1. Web Browser---You will need a web browser to access the Blackboard course site, Piazza, and CS Department Wiki (see Internet Access below.)
    2. Word processor---Students will be required to use a word processor as the primary tool for many class assignments. The word processor must be able to save files in PDF format. Students are expected to quickly develop their own proficiency at creating, storing and editing files of their own design. Such proficiency should be common by the second week of class.
    3. PDF Reader---Some course materials will be distributed as PDF files, and all graded work will be returned electronically as PDF files. You must have software to read PDFs.
  2. Internet Access: You will need internet access for access to:
    1. Blackboard---All course materials and announcements will be made available through the course site on Blackboard. Quizzes will be given on Blackboard. Students will be required to use Blackboard as the course tool and be familiar with uploading files.
    2. WSU Gmail---You must check your WSU Gmail account on a regular basis. All communications to the class, such as corrections to problem sets or changes in due dates, will be sent to your WSU Gmail account.
    3. Piazza---This is an online service that lets you ask (and answer other students’) questions about the course assignments, materials, and topics.
    4. CS Department Wiki---This wiki is used to collect additional resources for the topics in this course. You will be adding to the collection for yourself, your classmates, and future CS-101 students.

Course Workload Expectations

This is a three-credit course. You should expect to spend, on average, 9 hours per week on this class.

You should expect to spend, on average, 9 hours per week during the semester reading the textbook, studying, doing assignments, working on projects, and practicing in order to master the concepts and use of the materials covered in the course. (See Definition of the Credit Hour)

Definition of the Credit Hour

Federal regulation defines a credit hour as an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutional established equivalence that reasonably approximates not less than –

  1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  1. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

---New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, Policy on Credits and Degrees


  • Since this is an online course, you should be familiar with using the Internet, and particularly Blackboard. You will need to be self-motivated, and keep yourself on schedule. Assignments will be assigned on a weekly basis, but due at different times throughout the week. This is not a self-paced course. You must be comfortable with finding some information for yourself in the textbook and online, but just as importantly, you must be comfortable with asking for help from the instructor and your classmates through email and discussion forums (or in-person).

    If you do not feel that you have these skills and attitudes, you should not take this course in an online section.

  • Since this course has a prerequisite of "Familiarity with basic computer operations" you should be comfortable with email, web browsing and elementary word processing. It is expected that you can use these basic computer applications for completing work in this course without additional help from the instructor.

If you do not have this computer familiarity background, you should not take this course.

  • Since this course has a Mathematics prerequisite of "Math placement code of 3 or above" you should have basic facility with arithmetic. In addition, it is expected that you have a basic facility with elementary algebra. We will be working with the concepts of variables and functions.

If you do not have this mathematical background, you should not take this course.

No prior programming experience is needed or expected for this course.

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to give you a broad overview of the field of Computer Science.

  • If you are not a CS Major or Minor the course should answer the question: "What should you know about how a computer works, what it can and cannot do, and how it stores and manipulates information?"
  • If you are a CS Major or Minor the course should answer the question: "What areas will you explore in more detail as you progress through the program?"

Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand and appreciate the notion of algorithms and abstraction.
  • Have a firm grasp on the principles of digital representation of data and of basics of using such data in a variety of applications.
  • Understand the basics of computer architecture and learn how computers are programmed by means of encoded instructions.
  • Understand the fundamentals of operating systems---what they do and how they do it.
  • Understand the basic operation of networks, applications of networks and security issues.
  • Understand the role of general information systems such as spreadsheets and databases.
  • Appreciate how algorithms are the underpinnings of the science of computing.
  • Learn how to write programs in pseudocode efficiently and how to read code and understand pseudocode.
  • Understand the abstractions behind common computer programming languages.

LASC Student Learning Outcomes

This course will contribute to the students' ability to:

  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication.
  • Employ quantitative and qualitative reasoning.
  • Apply skills in critical thinking.
  • Apply skills in information literacy.
  • Understand the roles of science and technology in our modern world.
  • Understand how scholars in various disciplines approach problems and construct knowledge.
  • Display socially responsible behavior and act as socially responsible agents in the world.

LASC Quantitative Reasoning Outcomes

This course will:

  1. Acquaint students with formal systems, procedures and sequences of operation.
  2. Strengthen students' understanding of variables and functions.
  3. Apply mathematical techniques to the analysis and solution of real-life problems.
  4. Emphasize the importance of accuracy, including precise language and careful definitions of mathematical concepts.
  5. Understand both the underlying principles and practical applications of one or more fields of mathematics.
  6. Strengthen understanding of the relationship between algebraic and graphical representations.

Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes

This course addresses the following outcomes of the Computer Science Major:

Upon successful completion of the Major in Computer Science, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze a problem, develop/design multiple solutions and evaluate and document the solutions based on the requirements. (Introduction)
  2. Communicate effectively both in written and oral form. (Introduction)
  3. Identify professional and ethical considerations, and apply ethical reasoning to technological solutions to problems. (Introduction)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of and appreciation for the importance of negotiation, effective work habits, leadership, and good communication with teammates and stakeholders. (Introduction)
  5. Learn new models, techniques, and technologies as they emerge and appreciate the necessity of such continuing professional development. (Introduction)

Course Topics

The course outline will be covered on a best-effort basis, subject as always to time limitations as the course progresses.

  • Data Representation (Chapter 2, 3)
  • Digital Circuits (Chapter 4, 5)
  • Basic Computer Organization and Assembly Language (Chapter 6)
  • Algorithms and Efficiency of Algorithms (Chapter 7)
  • Programming Language Models (Chapters 8, 9)
  • Operating Systems (Chapter 10)
  • File Systems (Chapter 11)
  • Information Systems (Chapter 12)
  • Artificial Intelligence (Chapter 13)
  • Simulation, Graphics and Other Applications (Chapter 14)
  • Networking (Chapter 15)
  • The World Wide Web (Chapter 16)
  • Computer Security (Chapter 17)
  • Limits of Computing (Chapter 18)

Course Philosophy

This course provides an introductory survey of Computer Science through readings, discussions, assignments, and labs. The primary goal of this course is to provide a basic understanding of what computers are and how they work. To do this we must not only understand something about the electronic circuitry of computers, but also how data representing the world around us (text, numbers, images, sounds, etc.) is represented inside the computer, and how the computer can manipulate, store, and transmit this data. Some programming concepts are introduced to motivate the topics, but programming is not the main focus of the course.

We will explore these topics through readings, problems, laboratory assignments and reports, and class discussions. The goal is not to make you an expert, but to provide you a basic understanding and appreciation of how computers do what they do, and to provide you with a basis for further study in the field of Computer Science.

You are encouraged to help each other out, in and out of the classroom, as long as you do your own work. (See Academic Conduct below.)

Grading Policies

Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

Assignment Category Percentage
Quizzes on Readings 20%
Class Participation 15%
Chapter Resources 15%
Homework Assignments 25%
Exams (3) 25%

Grading Scale

Percentage Letter Grade
93--100% A
90--93% A-
87--90% B+
83--87% B
80--83% B-
77--80% C+
73--77% C
70--73% C-
67--70% D+
63--67% D
60--63% D-
less than 60% E

Each range includes the lower value, but not the upper value. For example, the range of 80 to 83 includes all grades up to, but not including 83. The highest range does, however, include 100%.

Readings and Quizzes

The readings provide a basis for everything we do. You are responsible for the content---even if we never actually discuss a given reading. Required reading is assigned from the textbook; additional readings may be linked from the Blackboard site.

You will be taking a quiz on each of the reading assignments that will help me determine if more explanation is needed for certain topics.

Class Participation

You are expected to participate in online discussions on Blackboard and on Piazza. You are expected to make thoughtful, substantive contributions to the discussions.

Chapter Resources

You will be expected to find additional Internet resources explaning materials from each chapter. The purpose of these materials is to help you with understanding the course concepts, and you will contribute what you find to the class for the benefit of your classmates, and future CS-101 students. We will be posting these found materials (along with brief explanations of why they were chosen) on the CS Department Wiki.

Homework Assignments and Labs

You will be assigned a reading topic in the chapter (sometimes only certain sections in the chapter) and you will be assigned a lab from the companion website and problems from the book. I will also be posting web links that will help you understand the material better. Many of the labs have an associated lab report. Lab reports and assignments are to be typed and posted in Blackboard in PDF format.


There will be three exams given during the semester.

  • Exam 1 is tentatively scheduled to be given the week of 5 October 2015.
  • Exam 2 is tentatively scheduled to be given the week of 9 November 2015.
  • Exam 3 will be given the week of 14 December 2015.


All work must be submitted electronically, as PDF files, through the Assignment feature in Blackboard. I will not grade any assignment submitted in a form other than a PDF. It is just too time consuming for me to have to convert your work to a PDF so I can grade it. You may resubmit your work as a PDF until the solution has been posted. For the first few assignments, I will let you know if you have submitted your work in the wrong format, but I will expect you comply on your own after that.

The due date and time will be given on the assignment. The submission date and time will be determined by the “Submitted on” timestamp in Blackboard.

Please do not submit assignments to me via email. It is difficult for me to keep track of them and I often fail to remember that they are in my mailbox when it comes time to grade the assignment.

It is strongly recommended that you keep copies of your projects. Students are responsible for reproducing any lost work including unreadable files.

Graded assignments (with comments and solutions) will be returned to you electronically. To access a graded assignment, please click on your score for that assignment in the Grade Center. Please make sure that you review the comments and solutions provided so you can improve your future work.

Late Submissions

Late assignments are not accepted. This is so that we may discuss the assignment soon after the due date.

I understand that occasionally circumstances beyond your control (work, family emergencies, illness, etc.) may prevent you from completing an assignment on time. If that is the case, please e-mail me before the assignment is due and I will certainly consider your case.

Getting Help

If you are struggling with the material or a project please contact or see me as soon as possible. Often an email explanation or a few minutes of individual attention is all that is needed to get you back on track.

By all means, try to work out the material on your own, but ask for help when you cannot do that in a reasonable amount of time. The longer you wait to ask for help, the harder it will be to catch up.

I am here to help you understand the material and be successful in the course.

Feel free to come see me for in-person help. Just because this is an online class doesn’t mean that you can only communicate with me online.

Contacting Me

You may contact me by email (, telephone (+1-508-929-8728), or see me in my office (ST 110C). My office hours are listed on the schedule on my web page ( or you may make an appointment for a mutually convenient time.

If you email me, please include "[CS-101]" in the subject line, so that my email program can correctly file your email and ensure that your message does not get buried in my general mailbox.

If you email me from an account other than your Worcester State email, please be sure that your name appears somewhere in the email, so that I know who I am communicating with.

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You may expect that I will get back to you within 24 hours of your email or phone call (with the exception of weekends and holidays), although you will likely hear from me much sooner.

Code of Conduct/Classroom Civility

All students are expected to adhere to the policies as outlined in the University's Student Code of Conduct (

Student Responsibilities

  • Contribute to a class atmosphere conducive to learning for everyone by asking/answering questions, participating in class discussions. Don't just lurk!
  • Seek help when necessary.
  • Start assignments as soon as they are posted. Do not wait until the due date to seek help/to do the assignments.
  • Make use of the academic success center (see below).
  • Expect to spend at least 9 hours of work per week on classwork.
  • Each student is responsible for the contents of the textbook readings, handouts, and homework assignments.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Worcester State University and this instructor are committed to the full participation of all students, and will provide accommodations for any student with documented disabilities who are registered with the Disability Services Office (DSO). Please contact the instructor as early as possible to discuss necessary accommodations. All information regarding disabilities will be treated with confidentiality. The DSO is located in the Administration Building, Room 131 and can be reached by phone (508-929-8733) or email (

Tutoring Services/Academic Success Center

Tutoring Services are offered through the Academic Success Center (ASC). The ASC is located on the first floor of the Administration building, A-130. Tutoring services are provided to students FREE of charge. Students seeking academic assistance should visit the center as soon as possible or contact the Tutoring Coordinator at 508-929-8139.

The Math Center

The writing center provides free assistance to students in Mathematics. It is located on the first floor of the Sullivan Academic Building, S143.

The Writing Center

The writing center provides free assistance to students in the areas of research and writing. It is located on the third floor of the Sullivan Academic Building, S306. To schedule an appointment, please call 508-929-8112 or email the Center at To find out more information about the Writing Center including the Center’s hours and the Center’s Online Writing Lab, visit their website at

Worcester State Library

Worcester State Library has access to many articles through online databases including J-STOR. In addition many articles and book chapters are available to students through Inter-Library Loan (ILL). With a little planning, ILL expands your ability to get credible information sources about topics you pursue in your course work. Finally WSU students are free to use many of the library resources within the consortium. Given all of these resources it is extremely unlikely that you should have to pay for access to individual articles. Please work with the reference librarians to find the appropriate way to access materials you need. You have already paid for these resources through your fees---please make use of them.

Academic Conduct

Each student is responsible for the contents of the readings, discussions, class materials, textbook and handouts. All work must be done independently unless assigned as a group project. You may discuss assignments and materials with other students, but you should never share answers or files. Everything that you turn in must be your own original work, unless specified otherwise in the assignment.

All work must be done individually. Students may help each other understand the material but students may not discuss actual solutions, design or implementation, to their assignments before they are submitted or share work. The assignments are the primary means used to teach the concepts and material; only by completing the work individually will students receive the full benefit of the assignments. If you are looking at each other’s assignments before you submit your own, you are in violation of this policy. All students that collaborate on an assignment will receive a 0 for that assignment if that is the first offense. Students that collaborate a second time will receive an "E" for the course.

Students may not use solutions to assignments from any textbooks other than the text assigned for the course, or from any person other than the instructor, or from any internet site, or from any other source not specifically allowed by the instructor. If a student copies a solution from an unauthorized source and submits it as a solution to an assignment, the student will receive a 0 for that assignment.

Any inappropriate sharing of work or use of another's work without attribution will result in a grade of zero on that assignment for all parties involved. If you do so a second time, you will receive an "E" for the course.

Academic integrity is an essential component of a Worcester State education. Education is both the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills that lead to further intellectual development. Faculty are expected to follow strict principles of intellectual honesty in their own scholarship; students are held to the same standard. Only by doing their own work can students gain the knowledge, skills, confidence and self-worth that come from earned success; only by learning how to gather information, to integrate it and to communicate it effectively, to identify an idea and follow it to its logical conclusion can they develop the habits of mind characteristic of educated citizens. Taking shortcuts to higher or easier grades results in a Worcester State experience that is intellectually bankrupt.

Academic integrity is important to the integrity of the Worcester State community as a whole. If Worcester State awards degrees to students who have not truly earned them, a reputation for dishonesty and incompetence will follow all of our graduates. Violators cheat their classmates out of deserved rewards and recognition. Academic dishonesty debases the institution and demeans the degree from that institution.

It is in the interest of students, faculty, and administrators to recognize the importance of academic integrity and to ensure that academic standards at Worcester State remain strong. Only by maintaining high standards of academic honesty can we protect the value of the educational process and the credibility of the institution and its graduates in the larger community.

You should familiarize yourself with Worcester State College's Academic Honesty policy. The policy outlines what constitutes academic dishonesty, what sanctions may be imposed and the procedure for appealing a decision. The complete Academic Honesty Policy appears in:

If you have a serious problem that prevents you from finishing an assignment on time, contact me and we'll come up with a solution.


The class will run on a weekly Wednesday-to-Wednesday schedule. New readings and assignments for the week will be posted each Wednesday. Assignments will be due throughout the week.

  • The class will begin on Wednesday, 2 September 2015.
  • The class will end on Friday, 18 December 2015.

##Copyright and License ####©2015 Karl R. Wurst, Worcester State University

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.