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Case Study   ·  

Accelerated Feedback Leads to More Empowered Learning in Programming Course

In this case study, we explore how quick, quality feedback helped enable greater engagement and learning for computer programming students at Cal Poly Pomona.

In this case study, we explore how quick, quality feedback helped enable greater engagement and learning of computer programming for math & statistics students at Cal Poly Pomona.
Challenge

Assistant Professor of Math & Statistics Jillian Cannons wanted her computer programming courses to be more efficient and inspiring for Math majors, but faced two big hurdles. First, grading this type of work manually was extremely time consuming. It required her to build scripts and test each student submission individually, repeating the process for every submission. This was compounded by the difficulty of managing student work across email and the LMS, leaving her feeling exhausted.

Second, her students struggled to fully engage with the material. And because of the time intensive nature of her grading process, feedback and opportunities to reflect on the learning were not instantaneous, but rather occurred a fews days to a week after submission. As a result, interest in the subject matter was low, students were disheartened, and were not reaching their full potential.

Results

A former colleague recommended Gradescope to help streamline programming assignments, provide quicker feedback, and enable better student engagement. Professor Cannons was eager to see if it could improve her grading process as well.

She was immediately impressed. Gradescope’s autograder platform enabled Professor Cannons to organize, easily access, and maintain a digital record of her students’ programming submissions. She no longer had to manage work scattered across different systems, saving her an estimated 40% in time.

Once her autograder scripts and supporting code were in place, she could run her autograders seamlessly on Gradescope’s platform, dramatically simplifying her workflow for problem sets and programming projects. She no longer needed to manually check every student’s submission one-by-one. With Gradescope, she could manually grade a subset of questions and could review assignment trends across the entire cohort. Students received near-instantaneous feedback on their submissions, and reworked the assignment until they got it right. Gradescope also helped centralize that feedback, saving them time with a one-stop hub of their work, and an opportunity to track their progress.

With these accelerated feedback loops in place, Professor Cannons saw students take greater ownership over their work and their learning. Instead of settling for a 7 out of 10, they repeatedly reworked their assignments until they got a perfect grade. This self-motivation led to greater concept mastery, and kindled a sense of passion for computer programming where it was formerly lacking.

[zeenath_khan_headshot_1:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@24269c31
I didn't have to go in separately, download everything, run everything myself, and then in a separate fashion give them feedback. It consolidated my workflow into one place.
Jillian Cannons
Assistant Professor of Math & Statistics, Cal Poly Pomona
University of Wollongong in Dubai

The more she uses Gradescope, the more Professor Cannons is inspired to advocate its benefits to other instructors and departments. She leads workshops within her department and with the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence so that others at Cal Poly Pomona can achieve similar improvements in student outcomes.

[zeenath_khan_headshot_1:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@262093c5
It was night and day, it really was, in terms of how happy the students were with their grades and their ability to fix their mistakes. They were just more motivated to do well with the course and more engaged with the material. It just made so much difference.
Jillian Cannons
Assistant Professor of Math & Statistics, Cal Poly Pomona
University of Wollongong in Dubai
[jillian_cannons_1614702884:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@24de1095
It was night and day, it really was, in terms of how happy the students were with their grades and their ability to fix their mistakes. They were just more motivated to do well with the course and more engaged with the material. It just made so much difference.
Jillian Cannons
Assistant Professor of Math & Statistics, Cal Poly Pomona
University of Wollongong in Dubai

By the numbers

27,915
Total students
32
Average undergraduate class size
28:1
Student to faculty ratio

Location

Pomona, California (U.S.)

Institution type

Higher Education / Public University / Polytechnic

Mission

Cal Poly Pomona cultivates success through a diverse culture of experiential learning, discovery, and innovation.