Using Daily Missions to Promote Incremental Progress on Programming Assignments

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Automatic assessment tools are increasingly utilized in undergraduate programming courses to evaluate software solutions, streamlining the grading process for both students and professors. In spite of their benefits of speed and convenience, such online systems for providing instant feedback have the tendency to draw attention to performance-based outcomes while failing to reliably recognize the effort and hard work a student puts into a solution. For the many struggling students who are new to programming, this type of objective feedback can be discouraging and may decrease their motivation to stay engaged towards success. To address this issue, this paper explores strategies for more effectively recognizing student progress on programming assignments and identifying small tasks for students to complete that will steer them in the right direction. Further, this paper will discuss a gamification approach for adding ``Daily Missions" to Web-CAT, the Web-based Center for Automated Testing. From an evaluation of results gathered from student experiences with this latest version of Web-CAT at Virginia Tech, this paper will highlight the valuable potential gamification has in boosting student engagement in computer science learning.



Gamification, Automatic Assessment Tools, Computer Science Education