Automated style feedback for student programmers

Author: Abdulaziz Alsulami

Alsulami, Abdulaziz, 2017 Automated style feedback for student programmers, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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Computer-based tools are used to provide automated feedback to student programmers. Students appreciate being able to receive immediate feedback on their code, and teaching staffs often use the tools to ensure that submitted work fully satisfies program specifications. Many tools exist to check the functional aspects of code; however, few tools aim to assess programming style. This thesis investigates techniques that would allow for automatic assessment of novice students’ programming style capabilities. The thesis describes a prototype automatic assessment tool which can provide programming style feedback on several widely used programming languages. The tool has been designed to check and provide feedback on a range of aspects of accepted "good style", including indentation, choice of names, efficiency, documentation, and complexity. The tool feedback has been evaluated by conducting an experiment and survey. The targeted participants were academic staff who have experience in teaching programming, so they are able to provide feedback about the techniques used by the prototype tool and identify additional techniques that have not been covered. Collecting feedback from teachers through the questionnaire helped to reveal disadvantages of the tool feedback and suggest missing assessment factors that need to be included.

Keywords: Automated, tools, education, assessment, assessment measurements

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2017
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Paul Calder