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A Systematic Literature Review of Automated Feedback Generation for Programming Exercises

Hieke Keuning, Johan Jeuring, and Bastiaan Heeren

Formative feedback, aimed at helping students to improve their work, is an important factor in learning. Many tools that offer programming exercises provide automated feedback on student solutions. We have performed a systematic literature review to find out what kind of feedback is provided, which techniques are used to generate the feedback, how adaptable the feedback is, and how these tools are evaluated. We have designed a labelling to classify the tools, and use Narciss' feedback content categories to classify feedback messages. We report on the results of coding a total of 101 tools. We have found that feedback mostly focuses on identifying mistakes and less on fixing problems and taking a next step. Furthermore, teachers cannot easily adapt tools to their own needs. However, the diversity of feedback types has increased over the last decades and new techniques are being applied to generate feedback that is increasingly helpful for students.

In ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 19(1):1-43, 2019.

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