Giving Feedback on Interactive Student Programs with Meta-ExplorationDownload PDF

Published: 31 Oct 2022, 18:00, Last Modified: 15 Oct 2022, 01:15NeurIPS 2022 AcceptReaders: Everyone
Keywords: meta-reinforcement learning, education, exploration
TL;DR: We build a system that interacts with a student program to find bugs and provides feedback with near human-level accuracy by showing that finding bugs is a meta-exploration problem
Abstract: Developing interactive software, such as websites or games, is a particularly engaging way to learn computer science. However, teaching and giving feedback on such software is time-consuming — standard approaches require instructors to manually grade student-implemented interactive programs. As a result, online platforms that serve millions, like Code.org, are unable to provide any feedback on assignments for implementing interactive programs, which critically hinders students’ ability to learn. One approach toward automatic grading is to learn an agent that interacts with a student’s program and explores states indicative of errors via reinforcement learning. However, existing work on this approach only provides binary feedback of whether a program is correct or not, while students require finer-grained feedback on the specific errors in their programs to understand their mistakes. In this work, we show that exploring to discover errors can be cast as a meta-exploration problem. This enables us to construct a principled objective for discovering errors and an algorithm for optimizing this objective, which provides fine-grained feedback. We evaluate our approach on a set of over 700K real anonymized student programs from a Code.org interactive assignment. Our approach provides feedback with 94.3% accuracy, improving over existing approaches by 17.7% and coming within 1.5% of human-level accuracy. Project web page: https://ezliu.github.io/dreamgrader.
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