Continuously Collecting Software Development Event Data As Students Program

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Virginia Tech

Teaching good software development practices is difficult, both in theory and in practice. Time management and project organization are skills often left by the wayside by students too focused on the coding itself. Educational research has been invested in developing strategies to combat these bad habits. In order to provide better support for interventions discouraging bad development habits, more data about student development is needed.

The purpose of this research is to design and implement software to collect data continuously as students work on programming projects and provide it in useful forms to instructors and researchers so that they may make headway in designing new curricula, assignments, and interventions that better help students to succeed.

The DevEventTracker is a software system that interfaces with existing Web-CAT services to track student development data continuously, without any student effort. Development and compilation events are tracked within the Eclipse IDE through a plugin and sent to a Web-CAT server. Code snapshots corresponding to each event are also committed to a server-side repository.

The system provides a dashboard as a set of instructor-visible web pages that display useful data in generated charts and tables. Data are presented in both class overview and individual student summaries.

The system presented will enable future research in education and specifically in intervention development. Particularly, the system can be used to allow instructors to identify students who have a tendency to procrastinate and design more effective interventions.

Data Collection, Software Engineering, Computer Science Education