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Code Expert, developed at ETH Zurich, is an online Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designed to enhance programming education. Implemented across various departments, it caters to over 6000 students per semester, facilitating streamlined learning experiences while reducing administrative burdens for instructors. Often utilized in large courses, Code Expert addresses common challenges of student disengagement through innovative mechanisms, including learning analytics, multi-faceted feedback, and motivational incentives.

Encouraging Student Engagement

Code Expert introduces the concept of experience points. Students can earn experience points for each successful task they complete in Code Expert. These experience points can then be used to unlock bonus tasks. What these bonus tasks are is up to the lecturer. Here we see different strategies in different courses. Some common bonus tasks are, for example, unlocking old exam questions to give students additional learning experience. Other lecturers use bonus tasks to implement continuous assessment in their courses. So students first have to gain experience points to unlock the bonus tasks and then by completing them they can get a bonus for their final exam.

Impact on Student Learning

Data analysis indicates that courses utilizing experience points witness sustained student activity, promoting workload distribution and targeted learning focus. Weak students benefit from enhanced focus, while strong students are motivated by achievement accumulation.

Innovative Elements of Code Expert

In our data we see that in courses where experience points are used in combination with bonus assignments, more students remain active throughout the semester than in courses where experience points are not used. In addition, the experience points lead to a better distribution of the workload for the students, as they are motivated to work continuously on the assignments throughout the semester. The experience points help the weak students by helping them to focus on the currently relevant aspects of the course. But it also benefits the strong students by motivating them to collect as many experience points as possible.

Continuous Feedback Mechanisms

Code Expert facilitates a comprehensive feedback spectrum, ranging from automated responses to personalized one-on-one sessions, ensuring ongoing student progress monitoring.

Success Stories

  • In courses where Code Expert is implemented, we’ve observed higher levels of student engagement and participation compared to traditional teaching methods.
  • Lecturers have reported significant improvements in student learning outcomes, with students demonstrating a deeper understanding of programming concepts and increased confidence in their abilities.

Recommendations for Project Implementation

1.  Learning analytics: If you do not measure the student engagement, you cannot optimise you course.

2.   Feedback: Provide the students with continuous feedback throughout the semester. Code Expert can also help in courses, where automated feedback is hard to implement (e.g. AI, or machine learning courses). There the individual one-to-one presentations can be used to give students a targeted feedback on their developed models.

3.   Implement several benefits for your students in your course, which can only be achieved if they remain active throughout the course.