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Five Years with Kattis – Using an Automated Assessment System in Teaching
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Theoretical Computer Science, TCS.
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Theoretical Computer Science, TCS.
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Theoretical Computer Science, TCS.
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Communication: Services and Infrastucture, Telecommunication Systems Laboratory, TSLab.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1737-133X
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2011 (English)In: 2011 Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), New York: IEEE , 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Automated assessment systems have been employed in computer science (CS) courses at a number of different universities. Such systems are especially applicable in teaching algorithmic problem solving since they can automatically test if an algorithm has been correctly implemented, i.e., that it performs its specified function on a set of inputs. Being able to implement algorithms that work correctly is a crucial skill for CS students in their professional role, but it can be difficult to convey the importance of this in a classroom situation. Programming and problem solving education supported by automated grading has been used since 2002 at our department. We study, using action research methodology, different strategies for deploying automated assessment systems in CS courses. Towards this end, we have developed an automated assessment system and both introduced it into existing courses and constructed new courses structured around it. Our primary data sources for evaluation consists of course evaluations, statistics on students' submitted solutions, and experience teaching the courses. Authors of this paper have been participating in teaching all of the courses mentioned here.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: IEEE , 2011.
Series
Frontiers in Education Conference. Conference Proceedings, ISSN 0190-5848
Keyword [en]
Computer Science Education, Algorithms, Automated assessment, Programming
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-49549DOI: 10.1109/FIE.2011.6142931ISI: 000300879800236Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84858198854ISBN: 978-1-61284-469-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-49549DiVA: diva2:459797
Conference
41st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. Rapid City, South Dakota, USA. October 12 - 15 2011
Note
QC 20111201Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-28 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. On difficult topics in theoretical computer science education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On difficult topics in theoretical computer science education
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis primarily reports on an action research project that has been conducted on a course in theoretical computer science (TCS). The course is called Algorithms, data structures, and complexity (ADC) and is given at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

The ADC course is an introduction to TCS, but resembles and succeeds courses introducing programming, system development best practices, problem solving, proving, and logic. Requiring the completion of four programming projects, the course can easily be perceived as a programming course by the students. Most previous research in computer science education has been on programming and introductory courses.

The focus of the thesis work has been to understand what subject matter is particularly difficult to students. In three action research cycles, the course has been studied and improved to alleviate the discovered difficulties. We also discuss how the course design may color students’ perceptions of what TCS is. Most of the results are descriptive.

Additionally, automated assessment has been introduced in the ADC course as well as in introductory courses for non-CS majors. Automated assessment is appreciated by the students and is directing their attention to the importance of program correctness. A drawback is that the exercises in their current form are not likely to encourage students to take responsibility for program correctness.

The most difficult tasks of the course are related to proving correctness, solving complex dynamic programming problems, and to reductions. A certain confusion regarding the epistemology, tools and discourse of the ADC course and of TCS in general can be glimpsed in the way difficulties manifest themselves. Possible consequences of viewing the highly mathematical problems and tools of ADC in more practical, programming, perspective, are discussed. It is likely that teachers could explicitly address more of the nature and discourse of TCS in order to reduce confusion among the students, for instance regarding the use of such words and constructs as “problem”, “verify a solution”, and “proof sketch”.

One of the tools used to study difficulties was self-efficacy surveys. No correlation was found between the self-efficacy beliefs and the graded performance on the course. Further investigation of this is beyond the scope of this thesis, but may be done with tasks corresponding more closely and exclusively to each self-efficacy item.

Didactics is an additional way for a professional to understand his or her subject. Didactics is concerned with the teaching and learning of something, and hence sheds light on that “something” from an angle that sometimes is not reflected on by its professionals. Reflecting on didactical aspects of TCS can enrichen the understanding of the subject itself, which is one goal with this work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. vi, 94 p.
Series
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:15
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-152357 (URN)978-91-7595-267-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-10-17, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20140929

Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2014-09-25 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved

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Söderman, PehrKann, Viggo

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