Monthly Archives: September 2010

Starting My Thesis

So I’ve been given the go-ahead to start writing my thesis.  I was going to post up some more exciting numbers/findings from my experiment, but that’ll have to wait – the thesis beckons.

I’ve started writing it, and holy smokes, it’s hard.  It’s hard because I have to zoom out from my current perspective, and start right from scratch, explaining where every single decision came from.

And I have to do it in a formal, academic tone – without awesome photos.

Plan of Attack

I think I’m going to go with Alecia on this one, and start with my outline.  That’s what I always did for any of my Drama classes where I had to write a big essay:  start with the outline, and treat it like the skeleton…then slowly put more flesh on the skeleton.  Keep fleshing it out, throw on some skin, some clothes, a lick of varnish, and bam:  it’s all done.

Anyhow, that’s my plan of attack.  So I need an outline.  Let me show you what I have.

Tentative Outline

  1. Intro
    1. Title Page
    2. Abstract
    3. Acknowledgments
    4. Table of Contents
    5. List of Tables (where applicable)
    6. List of Plates (where applicable)
    7. List of Figures
    8. List of Appendices (where applicable)
  2. The Meat
    1. Background
      1. Code Review
          1. What it is, how it is commonly used in industry
          2. Proven to be effective (Jason Cohen study)
          3. Helps to spread learning in a development team
        1. If code review is so good at spreading learning, why isn’t it part of the pedagogy in the undergrad curriculum?
            1. How do we teach it?
            2. The curriculum is already packed – how do we fit it in?
            3. Joorden’s and Pare’s peerScholar approach
          1. The idea:
              1. Have students evaluate one another after assignments, and give them a code review grade based on agreement with the TA grades.
          2. Unanswered questions:
            1. Would students actually benefit from this idea?
            2. What is the relationship between the marks given by TAs, and the marks given by student evaluators?
            3. How would students feel about grading one another?
          3. The experiment
            1. Terminology
              1. Assignment specification
              2. Submission
              3. Subject
              4. Grader
              5. Peer Grader
              6. Marking
              7. Marking Rubric
              8. Peer Average
              9. Agreement
            2. Design
              1. Single-blind, with two groups (control and treatment)
                1. In both groups, subjects would:
                2. fill out brief questionnaire
                3. work on two programming assignments
                4. have a maximum of half an hour to complete each assignment
                5. perform another activity during the time between assignments, dependent on their particular group:
                  1. treatment group would perform some grading
                  2. control group would work on a vocabulary exercise
              2. Subjects in the treatment group would then fill out a post-experiment questionnaire to get their feedback on their marking experience
              3. Counter-balancing?
              4. Graders would mark shuffled submissions
              5. Graders would choose their preferred submission
            3. Instruments
              1. Pre-experiment Questionnaire
              2. Assignment Specifications
                1. Flights and Passengers
                2. Decks and Cards
              3. Assignment Rubrics
              4. Mock-ups
              5. Vocabulary Exercise
              6. Post-experiment Questionnaire
              7. Working Environment
                1. IDE
                2. Count-down widget
                3. Screen capture
            4. Subjects
              1. Undergraduates with 4+ months of Python programming experience
              2. Months as a unit of experience
              3. The two graders
            5. Assignment Sessions
              1. Greeting, informed consent, withdrawal rights
              2. Pre-experiment questionnaire
              3. First Assignment Rules
                1. 30 minutes maximum – finish early, let me know
                2. full access to Internet
                3. work may or may not be seen by other participants in the study
                4. may ask for clarification
              4. First Assignment begins
                1. Timer widget starts
                2. Screen capture begins
                3. Subject left alone
              5. Marking / vocabulary phase
                1. Treatment group
                  1. Would be given 5 submissions (secretly mock-ups), given 5 rubrics, asked to fill out as much as possible
                  2. 30 minute time limit
                2. Control group
                  1. Given links to 5 vocabulary exercises found online
                  2. Asked to complete as much as possible, and to self-report results on a sheet of paper
                  3. 30 minute time limit
              6. Second Assignment Rules
                1. Same as first, but repeated for emphasis
              7. Second Assignment begins
                1. Timer widget starts
                2. Screen capture begins
                3. Subject left alone
              8. Control group subjects released
              9. Treatment group subjects fill out post-experiment questionnaire
            6. Grading
              1. Initial meeting, and then hand-off of submissions / rubrics
              2. Hands-off approach
            7. Choosing Phase
              1. Submissions for each assignment were paired by the subject that wrote them
              2. Mock-ups not included
              3. Graders were asked to choose which one they preferred, and give a rating of the difference
          4. Analysis
            1. Pearson’s Correlation Co-efficient as a measure of agreement
            2. Fisher’s z-score
          5. Results
            1. On grader vs. grader agreement
            2. On grader vs. peer average agreement
            3. On treatment vs. control
              1. Difference in average
              2. Grader preference
            4. On student opinion wrt peer grading
          6. Discussion
          7. Threats to validity
            1. The 30 minute time limit
            2. A rigid rubric
          8. Future work
          9. Conclusion

        That’s the current structure of it.  I’m meeting my supervisor tomorrow and getting feedback, so this might change.  Stay tuned.

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