Bridging cyber and physical programming classes: an application of semantic visual analytics for programming exams
With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) educators have the opportunity to collect data from students and use it to derive insightful information about the students. Specifically, for programming based courses the ability to identify the specific areas or topics that need more attention from the students can be of immense help. But the majority of traditional, non-virtual classes lack the ability to uncover such information that can serve as a feedback to the effectiveness of teaching. In majority of the schools paper exams and assignments provide the only form of assessment to measure the success of the students in achieving the course objectives. The overall grade obtained in paper exams and assignments need not present a complete picture of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. In part, this can be addressed by incorporating research-based technology into the classrooms to obtain real-time updates on students' progress. But introducing technology to provide real-time, class-wide engagement involves a considerable investment both academically and financially. This prevents the adoption of such technology thereby preventing the ideal, technology-enabled classrooms. With increasing class sizes, it is becoming impossible for teachers to keep a persistent track of their students progress and to provide personalized feedback. What if we can we provide technology support without adding more burden to the existing pedagogical approach? How can we enable semantic enrichment of exams that can translate to students' understanding of the topics taught in the class? Can we provide feedback to students that goes beyond only numbers and reveal areas that need their focus. In this research I focus on bringing the capability of conducting insightful analysis to paper exams with a less intrusive learning analytics approach that taps into the generic classrooms with minimum technology introduction. Specifically, the work focuses on automatic indexing of programming exam questions with ontological semantics. The thesis also focuses on designing and evaluating a novel semantic visual analytics suite for in-depth course monitoring. By visualizing the semantic information to illustrate the areas that need a student’s focus and enable teachers to visualize class level progress, the system provides a richer feedback to both sides for improvement.