Evaluation of ProCoMon – a progress monitoring tool for a beginner’s course in programming

  • Type: Bachelor Thesis
  • Status: Completed
  • ID: 2021-003
  • Student: Sebastian Geiss

The RWTH Aachen University provides a bridge course in computer science to prepare students without prior programming experience for programming lectures by supporting them in learning the basic concepts. As programming finds its way into more and more degree programs, the number of potential participants is also steadily increasing. This makes it more difficult to supervise and monitor the participants. Due to the limited number of tutors in the course, not all students can get feedback on their assignments. In addition, they are not always able to give feedback on their own progress and problems. ProCoMon was developed by Jentzsch to support this course [Jen20]. ProCoMon is an e-learning system that focuses on assisting the students with instant feedback to their solutions even with a bad internet connection. Also, ProCoMon was developed to provide a meaningful insight into the students’ progress. But whether the automatic feedback has a positive effect on the students or disturbs the usability and the learning behavior has not yet been evaluated. It was also not verified whether the chosen metrics of ProCoMon are suitable to monitor the course. Therefore, it is unclear what conclusions can be drawn from the measured data. This thesis evaluates ProCoMon in different aspects: (1.) The task mapping, (2.) the usability from the students’ point of view, and (3.) the monitoring features of ProCoMon. The results should show whether ProCoMon is an asset to the course. The task mapping was evaluated by first establishing a concept of how the tasks could be mapped. Further, it was shown how all tasks were implemented. Only a teamwork aspect of tasks could not be assessed by ProCoMon. A study was conducted during the bridge course to evaluate usability from the users’ point of view with a group that used ProCoMon and a control group that didn’t. The results of this study show that ProCoMon improves the student’s learning but has technical weaknesses and motivates the students less to learn. To evaluate the monitoring features of ProCoMon, two surveys were conducted to get insight into the student’s progress and the difficulty of the tasks and compare it to ProCoMon’s measurements. The results show that Procomon can be used to monitor progress but not to measure task difficulty. In summary, ProCoMon provides a good foundation that can have a positive impact
on the course if the weaknesses are eliminated.