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( 6 months ago )

How to motivate students to debug their work independently

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Jai Khanna

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( 6 months ago )


One way that could work is to open a forum or a place for the students do help each other. This would prevent posting incomplete or not clear questions (because no one would like to look dumb) and would help you to debug once for class (maybe you could also collect them and provide it for the next courses). You could then also grade the activity on the forum (at least that helped me to post in a forum for a lecture :).

As tonysdg suggest you could let them know the rules of the forum like in Stack Overflow. Or say that if they (or other students) can't solve their problems in a week (or two) you will step in.

The most important part is let them know how and what do you expect from them before coming to you.

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Jasmin Bhasin

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( 6 months ago )


For the last few semesters, I have taught a graduate-level course (mixture of Master's and PhD students) that has a very substantial data analysis component in which every assignment involves analyzing data based on what was covered in the prior 1-2 week's worth of lectures. The prerequisite is my university's introductory statistics course, which teaches students basic statistics (t-tests, z-tests, linear regression, etc). We recommend a particular statistical language to use and provide coding suggestions in that language, but students are also free to use whatever they feel most comfortable using.

Increasingly, I am finding that students in the course rely on me to solve every coding error or problem they encounter, and in many cases, the top hit of a Google search for the error/problem suggests more or less what I would have as well. Some students are "repeat offenders" in that even when I show them how to use Google to look for debugging help, they still come to me with Google-able questions.

I want to be sympathetic to students who may not have much statistical computing experience beyond the introductory statistics course we teach, but at the same time, I feel that graduate-level students need to be able to solve these sorts of questions on their own. In my field, you cannot survive without knowing how to write code to analyze data, and part of that is knowing how to debug your code when inevitable errors/bugs arise.

Has anyone run into this sort of issue before, and what, if anything, helped?

what's your interest


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