Game-Based Coding Challenges to Foster Programming Practice

Authors José Carlos Paiva , José Paulo Leal , Ricardo Queirós

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Author Details

José Carlos Paiva
  • CRACS - INESC-Porto LA, Portugal
  • DCC - FCUP, Porto, Portugal
José Paulo Leal
  • CRACS - INESC-Porto LA, Portugal
  • DCC - FCUP, Porto, Portugal
Ricardo Queirós
  • CRACS - INESC-Porto LA, Portugal
  • uniMAD - ESMAD, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal

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José Carlos Paiva, José Paulo Leal, and Ricardo Queirós. Game-Based Coding Challenges to Foster Programming Practice. In First International Computer Programming Education Conference (ICPEC 2020). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 81, pp. 18:1-18:11, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


The practice is the crux of learning to program. Automated assessment plays a key role in enabling timely feedback without access to teachers but alone is insufficient to engage students and maximize the outcome of their practice. Graphical feedback and game-thinking promote positive effects on students' motivation as shown by some serious programming games, but those games are complex to create and adapt. This paper presents Asura, an environment for assessment of game-based coding challenges, built on a specialized framework, in which students are invited to develop a software agent (SA) to play it. During the coding phase, students can take advantage of the graphical feedback to complete the proposed task. Some challenges also encourage students to think of a SA that plays in a setting with interaction among SAs. In such a case, the environment supports the creation and visualization of tournaments among submitted agents. Furthermore, the validation of this environment from the learners' perspective is also described.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Applied computing → Interactive learning environments
  • Applied computing → E-learning
  • games
  • automatic assessment
  • graphical feedback
  • programming
  • learning
  • challenges


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