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On the Nature of Programming Exercises

by   Alberto Simões, et al.

There are countless reasons cited in scientific studies to explain the difficulties in programming learning. The reasons range from the subject's complexity, the ineffective teaching and study methods, to psychological aspects such as demotivation. Still, learning programming often boils down to practice on exercise solving. Hence, it is essential to understand that the nature of a programming exercise is an important factor for the success and consistent learning. This paper explores different approaches on the creation of a programming exercise, starting with realizing how it is currently formalized, presented and evaluated. From there, authors suggest variations that seek to broaden the way an exercise is solved and, with this diversity, increase student engagement and learning outcome. The several types of exercises presented can use gamification techniques fostering student motivation. To contextualize the student with his peers, we finish presenting metrics that can be obtained by existing automatic assessment tools.


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