Asee peer logo

Using Paper-based, Near-immediate Feedback to Support Active Learning in an Introductory Programming Course

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Active & Cooperative Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Stewart Thomas Bucknell University

visit author page

Stewart Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He received the B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. and the Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This research paper presents an automated, randomized grading system to support active learning activities and studies its effectiveness in second year (i.e., sophomore-level) engineering programming course. Formative assessment is an essential tool to both the instructor as well as the learner to measure course and concept progression. Further, immediate feedback is known to facilitate student learning, but is not widely adopted. As more classes convert to flipped-style modalities and dedicate significant portions of time to active learning activities, it is important to ensure that students are coming to class prepared. This paper addresses a method to increase opportunities for assessment that includes rapid feedback to the learner.

Online quizzes are one example of a method for providing immediate feedback and gauging student preparedness. However, such a system has its own set of limitations. This paper presents a system to generate randomized assessments for each student from a bank of questions that can be quickly graded and returned to students. The system supports automatic grading of multiple-choice questions and tallying open-response questions marked by the instructor. After scanning in the completed assessments, students are emailed their result with the marked and corrected version as a file attachment.

To evaluate this system, a second year programming course at a small, undergraduate-only midwestern institution was modified to include brief quizzes on daily readings in order to increase time for in-class assignments. The quizzes were distributed during the first few minutes of each class meeting, and students were typically emailed their results within an hour after the completion of the lecture. This system was also used for the two in-class examinations and final examination. Results from the exams indicate that the group of ``lost'' students constituting the bottom 10\% of the class, were supported and brought into the passing grade range. Results from the final exam show a strong improvement of the mean from 77\% to 85\%. This paper compares exam performance and student-self evaluations between the courses. A discussion of the system and how it facilitates near-immediate feedback and supports flipped classrooms or specifications-based grading schemes concludes the paper.

Thomas, S. (2019, June), Using Paper-based, Near-immediate Feedback to Support Active Learning in an Introductory Programming Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33513

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015