Coursework Feedback

Giving effective, actionable feedback is one of the ways that we can best help our students learn and grow.

1. Giving Feedback

Feedback should be given directly on the Pull Request that the students create on the exercise repository.

Feedback Advice

Be Positive

Above all else be positive and be kind. Our students want to learn and want to understand.

You should pull out small wins from bad code and encourage them to continue and try again. Many of our students suffer from low confidence and a well timed comment of motivation can be all it takes to push them to success.

If in doubt, consult our key rules.

Directing to Resources

If you can tell that a trainee has been struggling with a particular area of the homework one key way that you can help is to

  1. Acknowledge that they have struggled

  2. Re-assure them that many people struggle with such problems

  3. Direct them to an online resource that will help them understand the problem better

We should try to shy away from writing long, complex explanations to students problems. This can be a time sink, especially when great resources already exist.

Please note: Do not just link to documentation! Link to a tutorial or guide that explains the documentation.

Fixing Bugs

If the bug is a simple compilation or formatting error it's perfectly fine to suggest a fix to the issue. For example, an incorrect relative URL is a simple error that does not imply a deeper misunderstanding of the content and so can be safely fixed.

Prompting to Ask Questions

Make every error a teaching moment, mention that you see other students struggling with the same concepts and that asking questions on Slack can be a way to remedy their problems.

Explaining an Obvious Mental Model Issue

When a trainee implements code in a way that seems nonsensical the root cause can often be a misconception in how they have built their mental model. If you can obviously tell from their homework what their misunderstanding is then you are encouraged to correct them.

If they seem to fundamentally misunderstand a concept then it is best to refer them back to the source material.

Formatting

It never hurts to remind the trainee of the importance of proper formatting and indentation

Quickly Giving Feedback

Visual Studio Github Plug-in

The VS Code studio plug-in can help speed up moving between pull requests and making comments.

https://github.com/microsoft/vscode-pull-request-github

It allows you to make comments from directly inside and VS Code and allows each comparision between Pull Requests.

Github Desktop

Using Github Desktop makes it easy to see all of the open pull requests for a Repository and move quickly between them.

Fork Button

Simply navigate to the Branch tab at the top of the screen then select the Pull Request tab

Use the code review tool in GitHub

This not only get's the students used to using it, but also make it easier for other reviewers to know if work has been reviewed. The process is documented here at point 7.

  • If the work is good and doesn't require changes, select "Approve"

  • If the work needs work, select "Request changes"

  • If you've done a review, but don't have time to complete it, but the comments are valuable, select comment.

You will then be able to filter the pull request list by what needs approving. Screenshot 2020-02-28 at 13 58 24

Labelling the Pull Request

When you have completed marking the homework you should set the label as reviewed.

If the trainee has not completed the homework leave it as to-review but add the label not completed.

Suspicion of Copying

We take attempts of plagiarisation very seriously at Code Your Future because it is a strong indicator that the trainee is out of their depth and do not understand key concepts.

If you suspect a trainee has copied code please report this back to the Education Team and Course Coordinator on Slack. You should also highlight their homework as being Invalid.

2. Homework Grading

For our records and to track trainee progress it is important that we track how well the trainee is progressing through our course. This can happen in a variety of places.

  • Class Tracking Spreadsheet

  • Google Classroom

  • Trello Cards

Please consult your Class Coordinators for the best place to record this information as it will vary from class to class.

Grades should be given on the follow criteria

  • The completeness of the homework

  • How much you believe the trainee understands the content

  • How well executed the homework is

This is, above all else, an indicator of the students abilities and is not comprehensive. Different teachers will grade homework at different levels and we should be aware of this.

Although grading makes the tracking easier, we aim to give students feedback rather than grades.

A rough guide (to be taken with a pinch of salt):

  • 0

    • Work is not handed in

  • 1, 2, 3

    • Work has been handed in but does not meet the criteria/ demonstrates a lack of understanding

  • 4, 5, 6

    • Work is okay, demonstrate an understanding of this weeks’ material and the task.

  • 7, 8, 9

    • Work is good, the trainee demonstrates a strong understanding of this weeks’ material and the task and uses it with thought.

  • 10

    • Work is perfect, the trainee demonstrates a deep understanding of this week’s material and the task, a fluent use of code with very minimals errors or improvements

3. Mentor Responsibility

Education volunteers are responsible for a group of students to track their progress through the course.

They are responsible for

  • Ensuring that students complete their homework each week

  • Giving them feedback

  • Recording the trainee progress for their assigned students

Please consult your Class Coordinators for the best place to record this information as it will vary from class to class.

If you are unable

  • You are responsible for communicating with other education team volunteers to find someone to cover these responsibilities

  • If you have completed your marking and you feel able to do more

  • Please offer your time to other volunteers to help them

If students haven’t completed their homework

  • Please liaise with the student’s PD team lead to follow up with that trainee