June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Computers in Education
Previous research reports common student errors in introductory programming (CS1) classes. Knowing common errors enables us to improve teaching and content to train students to avoid those errors, and to provide an automated help system like providing hints based on particular auto-detected errors. Finding and fixing some errors is a part of learning, so our focus is specifically on errors that cause struggle, meaning excessive time or attempts. Struggle may lead to giving up, loss of confidence, or cheating. For 89 online auto-graded coding homework problems in our CS1 class of 100 students (mostly engineering/science majors), we first automatically determined the 12 problems with the highest struggle rates. Then, we spent about 100 hours manually examining incorrect student submissions to determine what errors caused struggle and the time spent on each error. Like previous work, we found many common general errors, like using = rather than ==. However, we also found problem-specific errors, like misusing a particular library function, leading to a first conclusion that a help system should allow teachers/authors to add problem-specific hints. Furthermore, we analyzed errors that caused the longest struggle, and found some uncommon "one-off" errors, leading to a second conclusion that a help system won't be able to detect all errors and thus might need automated recommending or alerting for human assistance (or other techniques).
Alzahrani, N., & Vahid, F., & Edgcomb, A. D. (2019, June), Manual Analysis of Homework Coding Errors for Improved Teaching and Help Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33083
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