Dr. Greg Longo is the Program Director for the Master’s in Data Science program and Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He teaches multiple undergraduate and graduate courses, from Python Programming courses to a Data Analytics with R course, and has been using CodeGrade for these courses.
The Principles of Python Programming course is taught 6 times a year for graduate students for the Data Science programs, it is a self-paced course that teaches the students the basics of Python through 22 autograded assignments. Many of these students have little programming experience starting the course and advance quickly.
Adopting CodeGrade to prevent headaches
This is the first year that Eastern University offers the Principles of Python Programming classes. Greg wanted to innovate right away: “We had a Python based Introduction to Data Science course before, for which we only had written exams and multiple choice quizzes, about programming. The students were taught a lot of basics, but never actually did any real coding themselves.” The way they evaluated the students did not work out: “We’d ask the students to put in their code in Brightspace, to try to simulate coding, and it was a complete disaster. There were so many different ways to solve the solutions, we had formatting errors, and much more. It was a real headache to grade code without actual coding assignments. This was the point I said: we need a better way to assess their actual coding.”
After he got in touch with the CodeGrade team, he knew that CodeGrade was exactly what he needed: “We got in touch with CodeGrade and it worked tremendously well. We could set up 22 autograded assignments for our new Python course and about 10 for our R course really smoothly. It just worked out super well!”
“CodeGrade was really smooth to start using, it did not take too long to figure out how to use it. We are not using it in the most advanced ways yet, but even that already substantially adds to the learning experience of the students.” The easy user interface and integration with Brightspace made the whole experience very smooth for Greg and his team: “The user interface is great and the Brightspace integration has been seamless. We’ve had no problems at all, it’s been really smooth. It’s great that everything is customizable by the instructor, that made it really easy for us to get our own assignments up and going without any help from anyone else.”
CodeGrade is helping students and instructors at Eastern University
The autograded assignments have already been paying off big time for Greg and his team: “I definitely see that it paid off in grading time saved: we have saved countless hours of grading. The students now submit their code and can right away see if it runs and if there are errors, they can then work on it themselves and do not have to wait for an instructor to give them feedback. With our 22 assignments, and in this term more than 60 students, who all submit about 8 or 9 times, it is thousands of total submissions attempts, no way we could have graded them manually ourselves! CodeGrade has saved a ton of time and effort for us, but has also been better for the students as they now get their feedback instantly.”
Greg also explains how much his students enjoy using CodeGrade: “Anytime students can do actual coding instead of written exams, they like that and want more of that. They want more CodeGrade essentially. They have been really enthusiastic about it, you usually don’t get a whole class, and it was not just one student! I had a live class last Wednesday, to help the students with an assignment in the R Data Analytics course, and the entire class of students told me that they wanted more CodeGrade assignments. I have never had students ask for more assignments before, until I started using CodeGrade!”