CodeAcademy Lesson Improvement Ideas - Solution Is Great - Hint Is Awful - More Console Examples Needed - Other Suggestions

Hello all,

So just some small suggestions that I think could improve CodeAcademy and something I think is already working well. Respond if you agree or post other things you think could be improved on (not sure if my thoughts are universal across all lessons). I am stating this in reflecting on my struggles in the “BeFORe We Begin” lesson (the second one on looping in Python). For a more detailed explanation see the bottom of this post.

Strength - Solution helps for getting over hurdles… it is a great feature.

Weakness - Hint button often gives completely useless information… solution: put in more review definitions in response to clicking the hint button, or have it respond with different examples or something more useful than just saying “have you tried multiplying?”

Weakness - Lesson often gives examples of code, but not enough examples of what the console would show with said code… solution: give more examples of console outputs so I do not have to erase all my code, copy, paste, run, then get my code back… just give more console examples.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

Detailed Explanation
Issue Encountered
So I have an easy time with loops when they have an easy statement after… example you loop through a dictionary, and then you remove they key to get the value and print that. It is simple because it is for ___ in ___: and then you follow it with an if ___ statement… or you follow it with print ___.

Where I am struggling, is I do not know how to multiply one set of values by another and then add them, and it tries to get you to do all of that in one bit. I do not know all of the things that can come after loop statements… like can I use an add(), str(), do I have to start with if? What are my options? So I am just throwing stuff at a wall and failing hard… and the issue, the HINTS were completely useless.

Like on the page before, “Keeping Track of the Produce”, it offered no hint (a problem), but the lesson/explanation was clear enough, after enough time pondering, going back through the lesson I figured out on my own how to get the output to be exactly the name, the string of characters followed by the price (using % to remove the key from the beginning) etc. I felt really rewarded and it was great.

BAM next page and I have hit one of the biggest walls I have hit so far. What prompted me to make this post was the “HINT.” After being stuck, I clicked on it and literally, literally got the response…

"The value of any given product is its number of items in stock multiplied by its price. For instance, the total cost for bananas would be 24 (a price of 4 multiplied by 6 bananas in stock).

You should print the number all by itself—no need for any additional text!"

Literally, the hint told me have you tried multiplying? It did not help me restructure my for/in statement. Did not tell me how to code multiplying things after a for/in. Did not give an example. I just have a vague hint of only printing the number. This made me realize that the HINTS really need to be reworked (especially for a new to coding person such as myself).

So that is the tldr spot, but I hope that gives you some insight and I think it highlights an easy place to improve the HINT function. Well if you all want to respond with other solutions to hiccups in CodeAcademy I think it could help. Have a great day!

Another suggestion… because I continued to be amazingly stuck in that lesson. I ended up seeing operators or conditionals (not sure, my brain is absolutely fried at the moment) regardless. I really could not make it through the lesson “A Day at the Supermarket” (I found out that was the name of the lesson through poking through forums and archives) the “Making a Purchase” and “Stocking Out” pages had very weak HINTS. Worse than that, when trying to learn from an exemplar (the solution), comparing and contrasting and then typing code, well the result was not getting things correct from a part of the code I did not even write (not allowing me to see if there was an issue in my code). This gave me one other idea for something that can be improved.

Weakness The lesson was having me use the basic operators -= and += without teaching them first (this is like teaching 101 error)… solution: have an additional page that teaches this before you have a new coder try to use it. OR in the HINTS give a link, like
which I found on my own to kind of explain what -= and += are…

Now I realize, maybe the paid members get to see/get a lesson on other basic operators while I as a free member did not, but at the same time, when I am thinking, oh, maybe I will become a paid member over the summer (when I have more free time), having issues as big as these pop up put a serious halt/doubt in my mind. Still will keep trying, but man, tough day today.