In Computer Science 3, we’ve been truing to find an authentic way to get students to better understand the value of good coding habits, like carefully naming their functions, and including comments. So my co-teacher and I decided to try a new exercise which he dubbed “coding roulette.”
At the moment, we’re trying to develop an approach to allow you to quickly select one or more members of our 450 person community for a package notification system. The students have come up with a lot of creating ideas for various search algorithms, ranging from a simple last name search, to a chorded keyboard where you would divide the keyboard into 5 quadrants, and just have the user press the appropriate quadrant for the first letter of the person’s name.
So we started coding roulette by asking students to work for 20 minutes on their search idea. Then when 20 minutes were up, we asked students to stop, post their code to gist, and pull down someone else’s code. Then they work for 15 minutes on the code, and we do the same procedure again, so that after 3 round, everyone in our programming class, everyone was worked on every piece of code. At that point, the last person to work on the code presents it to the class in a sort of mini code review/demo. We then talk about how how the code as implemented compares to the original vision of the creator.
The students enjoyed this exercise, and it only took one swap for them to suddenly see a much more pressing need for commenting their work.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great photo to share, but we have been enjoying the communications platform Slack for a lot of our communication in CS3, and it’s amazing, and also a bit hard to describe. Be sure to check out the demo video.