Explore Task: Student Questions


I’m a first year APCSP teacher. I’m having difficulty drawing a line between what I can and cannot do in terms of students asking for help. For instance, one student asked what the difference was between purpose and function. Can I respond to that in any way? Another was concerned about the efficacy of his searches. Can I provide keywords for them to use? These are two examples. I would love to know what experience/knowledge/suggestions folks have with this currently gray area for me. Also, are students required to work in my class during class time? Can they work in the library? Thanks! - Dan


Hi @dtompkins,

You’re not alone in struggling with the dual role of teacher and proctor. It’s probably more common than it is not.

First, the official word is in page 75-77 (as numbered on the document) of the “purple book” https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-computer-science-principles-course-and-exam-description.pdf

  1. Yes, you can help distinguish in general between purpose and function (and you should). You can give examples. You are clarifying the task directions and you are providing general assistance. You are not allowed to provide feedback on an individual’s work. For example, you may not read what the student has written, then tell him what he stated was a purpose - or that yes, he properly stated a purpose.
    An interaction might look like this…
    Teacher: A purpose means x… a function means y… an example would be the purpose of a bicycle is xyz, but its function is wxy.
    Student: … so is this part I wrote here a purpose or a function?
    Teacher: You’ll need to figure that out for yourself.
  2. You cannot provide individualized feedback about how the student should do the task. However, you can provide general tips, such as “If you want to find how your innovation deals with data, you might want to search something like ‘how does x work’”.
  3. I don’t see anything prohibiting your students from working in another location during your class time. As I understand it, our obligation is to provide class time for students to work on the task, nothing in the task directions beholding them to physically stay in the classroom or even remain in your supervision. Students are allowed to work on the task outside of class time, outside the class, outside your supervision, so I don’t see why they can’t do as you described.

Overall, avoid anything where you’re doing the work for an individual student or giving feedback to a student about their individual work. You can, however, maybe notice a pattern in what your students are doing or what they’re asking, then have them pause their work, then you give general tips and clarification to everyone, then have students continue their work, especially if you think your students do not understand the directions or are misinterpreting directions.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Explore Task “survival guide” in the last bubble of the Explore PT unit.




Thank you for providing the clarification I needed!