Ministry of Education, Culture and Science finances two-year TU/e & OU research project on the development of a Java task bank

The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) makes funding available for the development of a Java task bank, as part of the annual open and online education incentive scheme. In the fourth round of this scheme, a total of 39 project proposals were submitted, 12 of which were approved by the Minister. A proposal by the TU/e and OU within the Open Learning Materials pillar has been honored.

SERF: Structured Exercise Repository with Feedback
The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Open University (OU) will develop an open and online database for programming education in Java. The task bank is structured by means of a prior knowledge graph that makes it possible for various educational institutions to easily fit the tasks into their current education. The learning materials are supported with tools for automatic checking and giving direct feedback on the quality of the solutions of students.

Consequences of poor quality software have more and more impact and can sometimes have disastrous consequences in our society. Properly teaching software programming to our students is the beginning of the road to better software quality. Programming, however, is a complex skill which should be practiced a lot to get the hang of it. The value of practice increases when a student receives immediate feedback on the quality of his or her solution.

In practice, however, the amount of exercise material that is available is lacking as well as the possibility to receive feedback. For this reason, the TU/e and OU will develop the task bench for Java programming education in the propaedeutic phase, as given to Dutch educational institutions. Assignments are relatively independent of the approach to programming education and are therefore easily maintainable. The aim is for other programs to contribute later, through feedback and/or active participation, to the further development of both the questionnaire collection and the tooling. This improves quality and ensures continuity in a much more efficient way.

Project details
The project is led by Assistant Professor Ruurd Kuiper of the Software Engineering and Technology research group of the TU/e Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, together with Full Professor Tanja E. J. Vos and Assistant Professor Harrie Passier of the OU. The project runs from June 2018 to June 2020.