Research IT

Introducing the Institute of Coding

The Institute of Coding (IoC) is a Government initiative involving universities, industry and professionals which aims to address the UK digital skills shortage. One of the key aims of the project is to improve the quality and relevance of digital skills education delivered by UK universities.

Here at the University of Manchester, researchers and educators in the School of Computer Science are contributing to the IoC by studying how undergraduate students acquire software development skills and are building automated tools to support their learning. Our Research Software Engineers (RSEs) are working with investigators Suzanne Embury and Caroline Jay on several aspects of the project including helping to develop a Learner Analytics pipeline and an automated Teaching Assistant “RoboTA”.

The Learner Analytics pipeline will provide data-driven insights into student learning such as common errors and difficulties experienced by novice software engineers that can be used to improve teaching practices. The raw data for the Learner Analytics pipeline consists of complex event log data from online tools used by students during their software engineering course. As a first step, Research IT are providing data science support by helping to extend a Python data processing pipeline which anonymises and structures the data for further analysis.

“RoboTA”, also written in Python, uses a continuous integration server not only to check the quality of student code but also to provide continuous formative feedback on their work. The final system will provide feedback on team planning and coordination, proper use of Git and Git workflows, and on best practices for writing automated test code and for code review.

If you need support with a Python project, have complex data that needs wrangling into an analysis ready dataset, or if you think Research IT’s data science skills will be of benefit to you, please get in touch for a consultation.

To find out more about the work of the Institute of Coding at The University of Manchester, please visit the IoC website.