Programming lessons and being meticulous go hand and hand. They are the perfect match! This is because a successful programmer needs this soft skill to design high quality programs that work consistently. Since students benefit from learning experiences that connect to the real world, it is important to develop work habits that are valued in the workplace. This third article in the soft skills blog series is about developing programming lessons that explicitly teach strategies for being meticulous. A meticulous person pays attention to details and approaches tasks methodically. Anyone can develop these work habits as they are teachable. Keep reading to gain some practical ideas to use with your students.
7 Essential Soft Skills Every Programmer Needs
A programmer cannot just be good at making programs. Instead, they also need to have work habits that help them complete a task efficiently. There are seven soft skills that can help your students be successful. These include:
Being Meticulous Is Not Glamorous, But It Is Necessary
Being meticulous sounds boring in comparison to all the other soft skills. It does not seem exciting like curiosity or creativity. Nor can it create fun times with friends like being a team player or a strong communicator suggests. It does not even hint at intelligence like logical thinker implies. In fact, being someone who is meticulous seems extremely dull.
For a moment, picture meticulous as a cartoon character. It would be an old man manicuring his lawn wearing brown pants and big glasses, holding tiny scissors in his right hand, a ruler in his left hand, and a magnify glass in his pocket. Not at all glamorous!
But here is an important truth – when you are programming or doing a task that requires attention to detail being meticulous is what you want to be! It is a soft skill that is highly valued in the workplace. This is because clients, bosses, and co-workers don’t like work that contains mistakes or is incomplete. So, embrace this soft skill because all the creativity in the world, paired with every team high-five, can’t create a program that is error-free. For that, you need to be meticulous.
- follow a detailed plan or steps
- carefully and precisely do a task in order
- pay attention to details to make sure they are accurate
- test one thing at a time to find and fix problems
- repeat steps to check results
Develop Programming Lessons to Be Meticulous
Debugging is an important hard skill, or technical ability that every programmer needs. When developing programming lessons that teach how to find and fix errors include the soft skill of being meticulous. This work habit is essential when making high quality programs that are error-free. Below are five debugging strategies that blend both hard and soft skills.
Test Each Part a Bit at a Time
A meticulous person follows a detailed plan. Although they complete each step, they do not make a program all at once. Instead, they methodically write a chunk of code and then test it. Encourage students to take their time developing a program. They should check that each part works before proceeding to the next section. This strategy will avoid frustration. Emphasize that trying to find a bug in line after line of code can be an overwhelming challenge. By testing small chunks, debugging becomes a manageable task.
Systematically Try Different Values to Trigger Each Condition
Someone that has meticulous work habits carefully and precisely does a task in order. This is an excellent way to approach debugging a program, especially one that has multiple conditional statements such as if, elif, and else. In this case, a programmer must systematically trigger each option. To verify that the correct set of instructions runs when a condition is met, they enter different values. This form of testing must be done methodically, to make sure that nothing is missed. You may suggest that students create a checklist to mark each conditional statement as it is completed.
Temporarily Insert Code
Meticulous people pay attention to the details to make sure they are accurate. In programming, one way to apply this soft skill is to temporarily insert a line of code that verifies the program is running correctly. For example, if developing a guessing game, the programmer could show the answer on the screen to make certain that the response such as “you are right” or “you are wrong” is correct. Once the program is running precisely as it should, the line can be removed. Not only is this an effective debugging strategy it is also an easy way for students to become meticulous in their work habits.
Intentionally Break It
Becoming meticulous means leaving nothing to chance. When it comes to debugging a program must be thoroughly tested. This is particularly important when reviewing a program that at first glance appears to run perfectly. In this case, the programmer must intentionally try to break the program by entering unexpected values. This simulates the user making mistakes during data entry. For example, enter a number instead of an alphabetical value. Add spelling mistakes. As well, type both upper and lowercase entries. This systematic approach helps to identify bugs that are not easy to spot without rigorous testing.
Repeat Steps to Verify Results
One of the most admirable qualities of a meticulous person is their ability to repeatedly go over their work to make certain is error-free. This extreme attention to detail is a strength when programming. Should a bug appear, the source of the problem can be found by systematically reviewing each line of code. It takes time, but being meticulous isn’t about being fast – it is about being accurate.
Python Programming and Debugging Skills
Do you want programming lessons that blend soft skills with computer science concepts? TechnoPython is a Python technology project jam-packed with lesson plans that improve work habits at the same time as they teach essential coding skills. Students learn about loops, conditionals, logical operators, Python libraries, and more as they complete programming missions.
Session 4 in TechnoPython combines programming lessons and being meticulous into a fun series of debugging strategies. Students invent a guessing game that has players correctly pick a number to win. By emphasizing the need to be meticulous when writing and editing code, they learn the value of approaching a task methodically to find and fix errors. This six-part programming mission is an excellent way to teach Python programming and improve soft skills.