Teachers know how important it is to keep track of students’ progress. It’s a widespread practice to test students’ knowledge once at the end of the course via a final exam. Alternatively, teachers can apply the practice of formative assessment, where students’ progress is continuously evaluated throughout the term. The latter approach, which is being gradually incorporated into teaching methods by colleges and universities worldwide, helps keep students engaged constantly throughout the course and provides valuable ongoing insights into their performance and comprehension.
In the case of computer science education specifically, continuous assessment has been shown to be one of the best ways to teach students to code, as it can effectively help bridge the gap between theory and practice. With continuous assessment, students learn how to deal with frequent and sometimes strict deadlines, set realistic goals, and deliver required solutions.
How Computing Education Benefits from Continuous Assessment
Frequent evaluation of students’ progress can motivate them to keep up with the study material throughout the course. What’s more, the problems students face throughout the course can be promptly and easily identified through continuous assessment, giving the student and the teacher enough time to work through each challenge. A study on continuous assessment by Ángel Sicilia and colleagues looked at an online course on object-oriented programming. They demonstrated that using continuous assessment lowered the failure rate by 5%–10%. The University of Edinburgh, one of our partners that use CodeGrade, even reported a stunning 20-times-lower failure rate.
Another notable advantage of continuous evaluation is that students can put the received feedback into practice straightaway. They avoid making—and thereby reinforcing—the same mistakes. Eliminating structural problems in the early stages also teaches students to bring theory into practice. A recent study by Felipe Restrepo-Calle and colleagues showed that individuals who were taught with continuous assessment had a higher success rate on a final test compared with those who were evaluated only once during a final exam.
With these benefits, continuous assessment becomes a valuable asset for teachers. It helps engage students when they’re struggling right from the start of the course. This allows for a dynamic structure in which the teacher can proactively tailor their teaching to suit the needs of the student. It’s especially the case for larger classes—that’s when continuous assessment can be most valuable. Particularly when combined with rubrics and real-time analytics, it helps educators adjust education proactively and almost effortlessly.
Even though studies show that a continuous assessment grading method promotes improved and stable outcomes for students, especially in programming education, educators often avoid it due to a perception that it will require an increased workload to implement. Instead of grading only the final exam, teachers would have to grade throughout their entire course, which costs valuable time they simply may not have. However, with the right tools, teachers can reap the benefits of analytics and continuous assessment without sacrificing their time or altering their schedules.
D2L and CodeGrade: Bringing Continuous Assessment to Life in the Brightspace Platform
CodeGrade takes continuous assessment to the next level by providing automated and integrated grading. It can provide students with valuable feedback on their submissions as soon as they hand them in and reduce the workload of educators. CodeGrade combines continuous assessment with rubrics to help students see what they should focus on, while built-in real-time analytics tools for teachers enable them to see exactly where their classes are performing well, and where they may be struggling. These two features make both students and teachers more aware of their progress, helping boost engagement and performance.
As a D2L partner, CodeGrade integrates directly with the Brightspace Platform, so that teachers and students can keep the workflow they’re used to while getting access to a powerful grading and feedback platform. In addition to bringing continuous feedback, CodeGrade can help further innovate your computer science classroom with tools for manual grading, code plagiarism detection, peer feedback, summative code examination, GitHub and GitLab integration, and much more.
Many colleges and universities with Brightspace have chosen CodeGrade for their programming courses. Learn about their stories here. For more information about us and our platform, you can visit our website or find us in the Brightspace App Finder. You can start using CodeGrade in Brightspace right now! Book a short 20-minute demo with us directly and let’s meet!
We hope to talk with you soon or meet during Fusion so we can work together to supercharge your computer science education in Brightspace.
Keep innovating and learning,
Devin Hillenius, Olmo Kramer, Thomas Schaper and Youri Voet
Founders of CodeGrade and former CS teaching assistants at the University of Amsterdam