Teaching Students to Recognize and Implement Good Coding Style

Teaching Students to Recognize and Implement Good Coding Style

Eliane Wiese, Michael Yen, Antares Chen, Lucas Santos, and Armando Fox

Teaching students to write code with good style is important but difficult: in-depth feedback currently requires a human. AutoStyle, a style tutor that scales, offers adaptive, real-time holistic style feedback and hints as students improve their code. An in-situ study with 103 undergraduate students in a CS class compared AutoStyle to a control tutor which only offered ABC score. While students improved the style of their code in both cases, students working with AutoStyle were more likely to use an appropriate language idiom and to improve their recognition of good style. However, students struggled to implement style improvements, even when hints recommended specific functions.