Description

Erasmus+
Project Number:
2018-1-PL01-KA203-050803

In order to strengthen its competitiveness in the quickly-changing globalized world of digital economy, the European Union needs adequate workforce trained in Information Technology (IT), especially the programmers who form the core of the software development industry.
The lack of workforce having needed skills in this area has been observed since years in the whole European Union [1], including the countries where the project partners reside: Poland [2], Denmark [3] and Portugal [4, p. 7].
An obvious direction to go is to increase the efforts on programming education, especially encompassing the groups who are now underrepresented in the IT workforce due to reasons of culture and perception of the field (such as women [5]) and lack of prior access to education in related areas (such as immigrants from countries with limited educational opportunities).
The main barrier, however, is the difficulty in learning programming as observed by various researchers (see e.g. [6] and works cited therein). We believe a progress in passing this barrier can be attained with the combined use of automated assessment, which provides fast feedback to the students experimenting with their code and gamification, which provides additional motivation for the students to intensify their learning effort .
The students keep receiving the relevant feedback no matter how many times they try (thanks to automated assessment), and their engagement is retained (thanks to gamification). Thus the proposed approach allows for learning programming in a far less stressful way and makes it more achievable by students with less background education in the area. We also believe that in the long term, the availability of programming courses based on such an approach may improve the perception of learning programming, helping to draw more people to this subject of education that would otherwise be uninterested in it.

Nonetheless, up to this date, there are no available open collections of gamified programming exercises, no open interactive programming learning environment that would support such exercises, and even no open standard for the representation of such exercises so that they could be developed in different educational institutions and shared among them.

The primary objective of the proposed project is therefore to provide a framework for application of gamification to programming education, including the necessary specifications (of the gamification scheme and the exercise definition format), collection of gamified exercises (for popular programming languages) and software (a toolset for editing the exercises and an interactive learning environment providing them to the students).

The secondary objective of the proposed project is to disseminate the information about the possibilities and benefits of applying gamification to programming education using the project outputs to programming instructors and students of various educational institutions.

The target group of the proposed project are programming instructors and students learning programming (also self-teaching). The project is primarily aimed at programming instructors of higher education institutions and their needs such as:
access to gamified programming exercises and interactive learning environment to use in the educational process them as they are,
ability to adapt gamified programming exercises to the scope of the courses they carry and the expectations of participants of those courses, ability to develop own gamified programming exercises, especially basing on existing programming exercises. The other programming instructors can be seen as a secondary target group of the proposed project: while the project outputs are developed considering the needs of higher education level, they can either be directly used (the toolset and the exercises if they match a course scope and its participants’ needs) or adapted (if the exercises have to be modified in terms of their scope, language of description or difficulty) to the needs of other education levels.

The students can satisfy their need of an approachable way of learning programming with the two outputs of the project: the programming exercises and the interactive learning environment to use them. This especially includes self-teaching students for whom the motivational aspect of gamification is of primary importance as they lack the support of instructors.

[1] eskills-lead.eu/news/single-view/for-europe-a-potential-of-more-than-750000-new-ict-jobs-until-2020.html
[2] financialobserver.eu/daily/poland-lacks-it-specialists
[3] www.daxx.com/article/nordics-tech-talent-shortage
[4] eskills-monitor2013.eu/fileadmin/monitor2013/documents/country_reports/country_report_portugal.pdf
[5] focusintl.com/GD165-%20A%20Cultural%20Perspective%20on%20Gender%20Diversity%20in%20Computing.pdf
[6] Bosse Y., Gerosa M.A.: Why is programming so difficult to learn?, ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes, 41(6), 2016.
AcronymFGPE
StatusActive
Effective start/end date01/09/201831/08/2021

Collaborative partners

  • Aalborg University
  • University of Naples Parthenope
  • University of Szczecin (lead)
  • Polytechnic Institute of Porto
ID: 288172364