Is it a bad learning habit to look at the hint tabs when I get stuck?

Just as title suggests, is it bad to look at the hints when I get stuck? I’m very new to coding in general and I have a hard time grasping it at times so I get frustrated when trying to learn/understand some of the material. Sometimes I don’t know why I’m getting errors and when I can’t for the life of me figure out what went wrong I open the hints or check the walkthroughs on projects. I wanted to know if this is a bad learning habit and if this way of learning this material is counterintuitive.

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Hi! Welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

I don’t think it’s a bad habit just as long as your process before solving the issue was constructive… i.e. you had hypotheses as to what needed to happen and then after checking the solution you take time to reflect on whether it was a trivial mistake or not. If not trivial, how to expand on it for future reference. And if trivial but recurring, what kind of things to look out for to avoid these mistakes (sometimes it’s just time and practice).

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Yah, I’d second this. The hints are there for a reason; if you are resorting to them then just make sure you take some time to understand how and why they can be applied. You’re using them to shore up your own understanding rather than just to get the box ticked.

That approach is probably what you want even without hints; you could try to rush through passing tasks through trial/error and hints but it risks a false sense of achievement. Just try to be honest with yourself about whether or not you passed a task through understanding or whether you cobbled together something that worked but you’ve no idea why. If it’s the second then it will likely be worthwhile to take a little time studying the problem/answer and play around with the output till it all does make sense.

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Thank you for the reply; I try not to leave a question before I actually understand it, but there are some stuff that really confuses me and even when I think I’ve got it, the next time I need to write it out (ex. trying to remember how to write functions or concise functions) I complete draw a blank and forget, not sure how to keep that in my memory

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There’s a von Neumann quote about maths that I think applies really well to programming as well, loosely: “you don’t ever get to understand math, you just get used to it”.

I think the difference when one is well-versed is that there is a familiarity and precision to “what do I do now?” when stuck.

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Some things like the syntax are similar to learning a regular language, repetition counts for a lot. If it’s simple things like that then I’d not worry about; it’s easy to make mistakes when it comes to syntax (doubly so when you start using a additional languages).

Sometimes taking notes or using the course cheatsheets help when you need a quick recap (taking in absolutely everything the first time would be extremely unusual and it also tends to fade with time). Even experienced programmers rely on the docs from time to time as there’s just too way much to keep in memory.

@toastedpitabread’s comment sums it up nicely. There’s a great bit gulf of a difference between something that’s familiar but you can’t quite recall and something entirely new.

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@jacobswitz it’s not a bad habit to look at the hints if you have given your all at trying to find the solution. Looking at the hints becomes a bad learning habit when you don’t try at all and you use them just because you want to finish.

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