This semester Harrison is running a small study alongside the course to learn about the novice programmers experience with errors. Specifically, this is involves building a dataset of a bunch of errors from students in COMP1720 (hey, that’s where you come in!) so we can classify them, analyse them, and try and figure out how to improve how people learn coding.

Here’s a quick video which covers how to get install and use Ducky. Continue reading for the same info in more detail delivered via text!

While Harrison thinks it’d be great if you participated in this study, you absolutely can chose not to — and if you choose to, you won’t receive any money or better grades in return.

How can I help?

If you want to participate in the study, you’ll want to install the “Ducky” Visual Studio Code extension and use it in place of the normal “live coding” extension installed alongside the COMP1720 extension suite you set up at the start of the course.

As part of the study, we’re asking you to report the mistakes and errors you come across while you’re programming. That’s it. Whenever you feel stuck, you’ll need to run the command “I have an error” command: it’ll ask you a few questions about the error you have, and then send off a copy of your code to our server so we can diagnose the error in the future. You’ll also be prompted to submit an error report when your sketch crashes while running in the browser.

The more of these reports you send, the more we know about the errors you saw on your way to learning p5.js: so try send as many errors as you can (as long as they are actual errors, please don’t try to make his life harder by sending fake errors!).

How do I install Ducky?

  1. follow the normal software setup instructions
  2. open VSCode, open the Extensions view (View > Extensions in the menu)
  3. search for and install “ducky.ducky”
  4. follow the prompt to reload VSCode

Once you’ve installed Ducky, it’ll ask you to consent to being part of the study — you should read this to make sure you understand what you’re getting into, then click the button of your choosing.

What do I do?

Ducky aims to collect two types of errors:

  1. Errors your computer knows about (like when you make a typo). In each case of this Ducky detects, it will ask if you want submit an error report.
  2. Errors that you know about. These are tough errors: they’re the ones where you think everything should be working… but it just isn’t. When you come across one of these, we’re asking you to submit a manual error report by running the “I have an error” command.

To properly use Ducky, when you work on any of your labs or assignments — you should click the “Go live (with Ducky)!” button instead of the normal “Go live!” button.

What’s in it for me?

As mentioned above, you won’t get any financial or course grade related benefits for participating in this research. However:

  1. You’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling, because by participating in this study you’ll be helping people who learn how to program in the future.
  2. Harrison will take a look at the errors that are being sent in every week, and we’ll provide some instruction on how to overcome them — so you might learn something from other people’s mistakes too!

Updated:    01 Aug 2021 / Responsible Officer:    Head of School / Page Contact:    Charles Martin