Student perceptions of various hint features while solving coding exercises
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Drill and practice systems provide students with an informal learning environment to learn programming languages. In a traditional classroom setting, while feedback is personalized for each individual, it is a time consuming process. These online environments possess the ability to provide instantaneous feedback and can be accessed from any location. However, while these are conveniences, there is still an issue with the quantity and quality of feedback that is provided to each user by the system, and whether it is helpful towards helping them solve the exercise with a large understanding of the concept being tested. In this thesis we investigate how students perceive additional feedback would help them in completing coding exercises in CodeWorkout. We conducted these investigations through user studies, across two focus groups, with Computer Science students from various years. The study was conducted over one semester with a total of seventeen participants. A discussion based frequently asked questions (FAQ) tool, the ability to request a hint during submissions and the option to provide a hint to other users, to encourage active learning, were all options presented to participants during these focus groups. The information gathered though these group discussions formed the basis of our conclusion and implications. The overall feedback on all three tools was both positive and constructive. The idea of having a less traditional FAQ tool, complete anonymity in responses, as well as the ability to vote on hints provided were strong emergent themes through the study. The majority of Participants felt that they would utilize all these tools in some fashion, were they provided, and would find them helpful in completing a coding exercise if they were stuck. Lastly, we conclude with suggestions for potential design and feature options for the system.
- Masters Theses