Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Joel Evans - Winston-Salem State University
OneUp is a project that builds a gamified course platform in order to explore the effectiveness of gamifying academic courses. Gamification is the process of adding game elements into a nongaming context. We are extending the OneUp platform by adding support for dynamic problems. There is good evidence that students learn better when given more opportunity to practice skills using related problems. However, this requires a sufficient supply of automatically graded problems to enable instant feedback. We achieve this through automating the process of problem generation. In our system, dynamic problems are short computer programs which use a random seed to generate a unique instance of a particular programming or calculating problem and grade the correctness of the submitted answer. Currently problems are written in a rich text editor, with the dynamic aspects being created through snippets of code written in the Lua programing language.
Over the course of the last two semesters we have worked on authoring dynamic problems to be used in the OneUp system. These problems have been employed in a computer science course, CSC 2331 Data Structures, here at Winston-Salem State University. For example, students in this course cover units on stacks, queues, and linked lists. Each one of these three abstract data types support three main operations: adding a new element to the structure, removing an element from the structure and viewing a specific element (e.g. what is at the top of a stack). One type of dynamic problems that we provided were questions about what would be the content of a particular data structure after applying a series of add/delete/view operations on it. To implement these, we modeled the three data structures and their operations in Lua and added a random component to ensure that the order of the operations applied on the particular structure is never the same. Although the framework is the same, when students attempt to take a quiz including such dynamic problems they are greeted with different sequences of statements (different operations, as well as different values of the parameters), ensuring that the students are never practicing the same problem and can better understand the core concepts.
In order to evaluate the efficacy of the use of dynamic problems in the OneUp platform, we are collecting data over the course of three semesters. The first group does not use dynamic problems, or gamification features. The second group uses dynamic problems but not gamification features, while the third group will use both dynamic problems and gamification features. We plan to look for correlations between student usage of dynamic problems and the students’ performance in the course. Future work also includes developing dynamic problems for additional courses.
Funding provided in part by NSF HBCU-UP1623236 and WSSU RIP Grant 122464.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Funding provided in part by NSF HBCU-UP1623236 and WSSU RIP Grant 122464.
Faculty Advisor: Keith Irwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I help create the dynamic problems framework, as well as created dynamic problems to be used in a university classroom setting.