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Coding Trails: Concise Representations of Student Behavior on Programming Tasks

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Computers in Education 1 - Programming 1

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36802

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36802

Download Count

79

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Paper Authors

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Frank Vahid zyBooks; University of California, Riverside

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Frank Vahid is a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Univ. of California, Riverside, and co-founder and chief learning officer of zyBooks. His research interests include CS/engineering education, and embedded systems.

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Roman Lysecky University of Arizona; zyBooks

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Roman Lysecky is VP of Content at zyBooks, A Wiley Brand and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside in 2005. His research focuses on embedded systems, cybersecurity, and STEM education. He has authored more than 100 research publications, received nine Best Paper Awards, is an inventor on multiple patents, and received multiple awards for Excellence at the Student Interface.

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Bailey Alan Miller University of California, Riverside

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Bailey Miller is the Director of Engineering at zyBooks, a part of John Wiley and Sons. He formerly worked as a software engineer at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX). He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering, and his M.S and Ph.D. in Computer Science, from the University of California, Riverside in 2009, 2011, and 2014, respectively.

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Lyssa Vanderbeek zyBooks

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Lyssa Vanderbeek is Sr Director of Product Management at John Wiley, and Sons. Lyssa received her BA in Economics from Whitman College and her MBA from the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley. She has spent over 20 years developing technology products for higher education. After joining Aplia, Inc as an early employee, Lyssa led Product Mangement at Cengage Learning, Macmillan Learning, Inkling, and EduNav.

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Abstract

CS instructors desire visibility into student programming behavior, such as seeing the days a student worked, the time spent, and the number of compiles/runs. Such visibility may help find struggling students, prevent or detect cheating, and provide insight into the effect of new policies like points for earlier starts. Such visibility historically has been severely limited due to student use of external tools. Today, many education-focused program auto-graders provide a cloud-based development environment that records much student behavior. Detailed logs are cumbersome to view, especially for large classes, but conversely, summary statistics like averages and standard deviations lose much useful information. This paper introduces the concept of a "coding trail" as an attempt to visually and concisely summarize a student's coding behavior on a programming assignment. Our visual coding trail displays dates, each develop run, each submit run for auto-grading and score, and dramatic changes in code (often a sign of cheating). The coding trail is textual rather than graphical, allowing easy copy-paste, incorporation into spreadsheet gradebooks, and parsing by tools for further analysis, at the expense of some information loss. A version of our coding trail has been implemented in the zyBooks program auto-grader and appeared for over 2,000 courses and 130,000 students in 2020, with numbers growing. This paper introduces the coding trail, discusses various tradeoffs in its design, and points to a variety of uses.

Vahid, F., & Lysecky, R., & Miller, B. A., & Vanderbeek, L. (2021, July), Coding Trails: Concise Representations of Student Behavior on Programming Tasks Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36802

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