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SEED projects 2017 – Writing, Writing Everywhere

Introducing students to writing elegant computer code

Dr JJ Eldridge

Dr JJ Eldridge

Drs JJ Eldridge, Kathleen Foote, Nicholas Rattenbury, Maarten Hoogerland, and Assoc. Prof Peter Wills (Faculty of Science)

The objective of our project was to teach students not just to code, but to write well-commented and structured code that allowed others to read and understand it easily. Being able to write code that can be used by others is an important skill that will increase the employability of students.

Coding was first implemented into a new course, Advancing Physics 2, during Semester One 2017 with students required to code in groups. We encountered numerous issues which led to revisions, including needing to change the environment the students coded in (from Jupyter Notebooks to Glowscript). This necessitated writing new resources to suit the new environment.

The project has developed our understanding of how best to teach coding. We realised that: coding itself can be difficult enough without having to worry about the extra complexity of the environment students work in; coding can become a useful teaching tool; and how best to organise coding assignments to maximise learning.

When teaching students how to code we also have to remember that systems and infrastructure change so we need to be able to adapt.

The project will continue into the future as it is key to producing highly-skilled and employable physics graduates.