Building an Effective Automated Assessment System for C/C++ Introductory Programming Courses in ODL Environment

by   Muhammad Salman Khan, et al.

Assessments help in evaluating the knowledge gained by a learner at any specific point as well as in continuous improvement of the curriculum design and the whole learning process. However, with the increase in students' enrollment at University level in either conventional or distance education environment, traditional ways of assessing students' work are becoming insufficient in terms of both time and effort. In distance education environment, such assessments become additionally more challenging in terms of hefty remuneration for hiring large number of tutors. The availability of automated tools to assist the evaluation of students' work and providing students with appropriate and timely feedback can really help in overcoming these problems. We believe that building such tools for assessing students' work for all kinds of courses in not yet possible. However, courses that involve some formal language of expression can be automated, such as, programming courses in Computer Science (CS) discipline. Instructors provide various practical exercises to students as assignments to build these skills. Usually, instructors manually grade and provide feedbacks on these assignments. Although in literature, various tools have been reported to automate this process, but most of these tools have been developed by the host institutions themselves for their own use. We at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore are conducting a pioneer effort in Pakistan to automate the marking of assignments of introductory programming courses that involve C or C++ languages with the capability of associating appropriate feedbacks for students. In this paper, we basically identify different components that we believe are necessary in building an effective automated assessment system in the context of introductory programming courses that involve C/C++ programming.


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