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Exploring the Benefits and Barriers of Using Computational Notebooks for Collaborative Programming Assignments

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Programming assignments in computer science courses are often processed in pairs or groups of students. While working together, students face several shortcomings in today's software: The lack of real-time collaboration capabilities, the setup time of the development environment, and the use of different devices or operating systems can hamper students when working together on assignments. Text processing platforms like Google Docs solve these problems for the writing process of prose text, and computational notebooks like Google Colaboratory for data analysis tasks. However, none of these platforms allows users to implement interactive applications. We deployed a web-based literate programming system for three months during an introductory course on application development to explore how collaborative programming practices unfold and how the structure of computational notebooks affect the development. During the course, pairs of students solved weekly programming assignments. We analyzed data from weekly questionnaires, three focus groups with students and teaching assistants, and keystroke-level log data to facilitate the understanding of the subtleties of collaborative programming with computational notebooks. Findings reveal that there are distinct collaboration patterns; the preferred collaboration pattern varied between pairs and even varied within pairs over the course of three months. Recognizing these distinct collaboration patterns can help to design future computational notebooks for collaborative programming assignments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGCSE '20: Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Number of pages7
Place of publicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication year2020
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367936
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - Oregon Convention Center, Portland, United States
Duration: 11 Mar 202014 Mar 2020
Conference number: 51


ConferenceThe 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
LocationOregon Convention Center
LandUnited States

    Research areas

  • computational notebooks, collaborative programming, application development, programming assignments

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