The computer science department is pleased to offer the Emerging Scholars Program (COMS 1404), which gives first and second-year students a unique opportunity to learn about the field of computer science and enrich their experience in introductory-level CS courses.
The Emerging Scholars Program is a once a week, 75 minute workshop and discussion section that can be taken in parallel with your introductory CS class this semester. It is a one-credit course graded on a pass/fail basis. The focus of ESP is group problem solving - in other words, discussing and analyzing problems together.
In each workshop, a peer leader will present a set of problems from a specific field in CS, and students will work as a group to come up with algorithmic solutions and analyses of the problems. In addition, students will discuss the real-world applications and potential social consequences and ethical ramifications of each field. More information on the topics we will cover can be found on our course resources page.
ESP will expose you to a wide variety of topics in computer science. However, it is not a lecture, extra help, or office hours. Most of the class time will be spent collaborating and discussing problems with your peers. ESP’s self-contained workshops demonstrate the collaborative nature of computer science and how it is focused more on problem solving than on programming.
ESP has NO homework, NO programming, and no other prerequisites except an interest in computer science. Since there is no work outside of class, attendance at all sessions is mandatory, and participation is required from every participant. Download our syllabus here.
The goal of the program is to encourage more students to pursue computer science beyond the introductory level and into the major, by creating a program that encourages active participation and discussion of CS-related topics in a more positive, relaxed, and open environment.
More information about the Emerging Scholars Program - and its benefits for beginner CS students - can be found in these two articles about the program:
Studies have shown that the PLTL (Peer-led team learning) model that ESP uses involves students more actively in their own learning - and better meets the needs of minority students (Seymour & Hewitt, 1997).
There are lots of benefits to having teachers who are your peers within the major. In addition to teaching and discussing topics in computer science, ESP peer leaders serve as points of contact within the major, and can provide important advice for classes, internships, and career paths. ESP peer leaders are always available outside of class to answer any questions you might have about computer science at Columbia!
For more information visit our FAQ.