Introductory programming, problem solving and computer assisted assessment

2006-05-24T14:12:05Z (GMT) by C. Daly J. Waldron
Constructing a mathematical proof is isomorphic with writing a computer program. Validating a proof is as difficult as validating a computer program. Yet there is a pragmatic approach to validating a computer program: simply testing it with sample input and checking the required output. This paper discusses the use of computer assisted assessment on an introductory programming course. It is formative assessment; the aim being to foster a problem solving approach to programming. We have discovered the following advantages with computer assisted assessment in our programming course: the students get plenty of practice in programming, they get fast feedback and can easily move onto more advanced problems as their skill develops. The paper looks at the issues involved in problem design, the importance of presentation of the assessment and feedback, and student impressions of the exercise. Results are compared with traditional paper based examinations.