John Newsom teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio where he teaches students Python through two sections of the Programming Languages I with Scripting course.
From summative to formative assessment
Before John took over the course, a lot of programming assignments were optional, but not required. “The only time the instructor saw code from a student was on a test. I thought that was really bad, so I started pushing out a weekly programming assignment for students. In my experience with coding classes, the only way you are learning to code is by doing a lot of coding.” John further explains his challenges before CodeGrade: “Watching a video and then taking a test is not the same thing as actually learning how to code. So I started assigning all these coding exercises. The downside was that there was a lot to grade. So I looked at different ways of automatically looking at the output of stuff but I didn't have the time to develop something as well as what CodeGrade does.”
Using CodeGrade to give students more personalized feedback
This led John to adopt CodeGrade for his course. “It allowed me to free up a lot of my time. Right now, 50% of the grade comes from CodeGrade and then I grade the remaining part of it.” John uses CodeGrade’s autograder to ensure the student programs generate the expected output, and the built-in code quality checks to make sure they are using proper style in their code. The time saved allows John to focus on ensuring the students are meeting the assignment objectives. “It takes me about 30 seconds to see that someone has received 50% of their grade [portion of the grade he has allocated to automatic grading]. That means that it has generated the expected output and the code style is perfect. That makes it a lot easier to grade because I know I don't need to dig in as deeply”. CodeGrade’s automatic grading gives students valuable feedback, instantly and enforces good coding practices: “It encourages them to turn in really clean code because it tells them exactly where they are breaking the coding rules. I also love how it gives them feedback. That they can see that something isn't working or where the linter says it's wrong. I have them code everything in Visual Studio Code and I have the linter in there as well, so there are no surprises”.