Monday, April 17, 2017

URSP Student Olga Lorenz Develops a Rubric Grading Application

My name is Olga Lorenz, I’m a junior Computer Science student, and this semester I am developing a rubric grading application to assist instructors and teaching assistants at George Mason in creation, customization, and grading with rubrics. Working as an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) for the Computer Science department, I realized that a lot of instructors prefer to use tools other than Blackboard, like Excel, or even regular Word docs for their rubric creation and grading needs. While these solutions are indeed more flexible and intuitive to many (including myself), there are a few things that could make rubric creation and grading process more convenient, such as the possibility of creating a responsive, easy to read, rubric by uploading a csv (or json) file, storing and loading most frequent comments on student work, and creating customized reports on student performance. Contemplating on these ideas is what brought me to this point: designing an app of my own to hopefully address some of the instructors’ needs.

I’m currently writing the logic for grading within the rubric app, and the greatest challenge of all is designing relationships between all objects and attributes in the system such that it is both seamless to its users and allows for the creation of custom reports for comparative analysis of student performance and other useful features. Modeling objects and their relationships on the board (or on paper) with my mentor, Prof. Snyder, makes it much easier to visualize and critique – before moving on to coding – and helps avoid preventable but costly mistakes.

Working on this project, I am learning what it feels like to be a software engineer – not just writing code, but listening and correctly interpreting customers’ requirements, communicating my ideas, sketching out the system as a whole and its individual components, and making it all fit together – in code, and, well – in my head, too!