Computing Reviews

An empirical study of students’ perceptions on the setup and grading of group programming assignments
Aivaloglou E., van der Meulen A.  ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) 3(21): 1-22, 2021. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: 03/15/22

The ever-changing business world requires teams of agile developers, testers, technical leaders, product owners, and scrum masters to cooperatively develop and maintain new products. But how should academic institutions effectively be training current and future teams of agile software developers? Aivaloglou and van der Meulen, in their effort to identify factors for successful teamwork, investigate students’ views on the format and scoring guidelines for group software design projects.

The authors concisely appraise the literature on the impacts of procedures for setting up teams and grading based on student mindset, cooperation, innovation, and accomplishments. Perhaps strategies for grading and group assignments affect the contributions, learning, and achievements of individual students and teams in group programming assignments. This fascinating issue is examined via a focus group study.

The authors’ questions capture student views on policies for setting up teams, supervision, and familiarity with team programming and grading. They interview 20 students on their know-hows regarding team setup, programming, and grading. Twelve senior undergraduate and eight master’s students from computer science (CS) departments at four public research institutions in the Netherlands participated in direct and Skype interviews. A thematic analysis of the interview transcripts reveals that CS educators in charge of setting up effective student teams might want to consider (a) the variations in background skills, programming experiences, and devotion levels; (b) the reliability of peer grading and reporting of individual student contributions; and (c) the importance of presenting clear criteria for team expectations and grading.

The imperfect generalization of the research results is due to an insufficient sample of students and the nature of thematic data processing. Nevertheless, pedagogical pioneers from CS will find insightful ideas for building teams in this paper. Furthermore, readers may be able to recommend cost-efficient ways to replicate this study to generate universally acceptable results.

Reviewer:  Amos Olagunju Review #: CR147418

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