Scaffolded Exercises

Scaffolded Exercises

Though options exist for learning web development skills independently, it is still difficult for intermediate web developers to learn to author professional-level code. Online resources teach coding skills through simplified exercises, but do not offer exercises based entirely on deployed professional code. Professional front-end code is readily available, but it is difficult for intermediate learners to break down and understand so much complex code on their own. Scaffolded Exercises transforms professional websites across the internet into learning opportunities by automatically providing exercises tailored to the code at hand. These exercises scaffold learners to be able to break down a large codebase, understand conceptually challenging portions of the code, and recreate professional programming patterns contained in the example.

Interface and System Updates (Fall 2022): Identified current risks in the interface and system model and created an updated interface model. Ran a pilot study to test a new prototype with the updated interface model. 

System Work (Spring 2022): We identified current risks in the system model and addressed them to make the code instrumentation and exercise ordering generating algorithm more robust.

User Studies and Generalization (Winter 2022): Conducted user studies on the SE interface with pre/post testing and a comparison with CDT. Developed plan for generalizing exercise sequencing and content and data structure visualization for other websites.

Variable Notes (Fall 2021): Developed a notetaking framework that follows the reverse call-stack sequencing affordance to track and utilize a learner's build up understanding.

Variable Semantics (Spring 2021): Developed additions to the design and interface arguments to help users understand the deeper meaning behind variables beyond code relationships.

System Implementation (Spring 2020): We finalized our system arguments and implementation (see demo video here) and further scoped our design arguments and conceptual contribution.

System Work (Winter 2020): We submitted an extended abstract to CHI SRC in early January. We further developed our system arguments and started to implement our system model.

User Studies (Fall 2019): We finalized a version of an interface prototype and are analyzing our findings from a study of 10 users. We are also outlining how an automated system can create the interface that we are using for our testing.

Exercise Interfaces (Spring 2019): Currently, we are in the process of creating and testing novel exercise interfaces. By identifying struggles users face when trying to understand professional code even when using existing code learning tools, we are designing exercises that remove those obstacles.

System Prototype (Winter 2019): We combine previous research on learning flows and macrostructures along with other RALE tools to create the basis for a system that will take a user through all steps required to recreate professional code.

Macrostructures (Spring 2018): We create low fidelity interfaces and systems to test how learners make sense of the components that make up a larger program.

Learning Flows (Winter 2018): We review existing literature related to our project, explore which individual exercises and exercise series best assist a learner in their ability to recreate a professional element, and write an Undergraduate Research Grant.

Scaffolding Isopleth (Spring 2017): The first scaffolded learning experience we are exploring is built on top of Isopleth. Though Isopleth is a great sense-making, we hypothesize that guiding the learner through a set of scaffolded exercises to be completed with Isopleth will allow the learner to gain a deeper understanding of the websites that they are observing.

Sprint Video



  • None

Ph.D. Students

  • Gobi Dasu

Masters and Undergraduate Students

  • 🎓 Aaron Leon
  • 🎓 David Latimore
  • 🎓 Jonathan Liu
  • 🎓 Maxine Whitely
  • 🎓 Natalie Brewster
  • 🎓 Yabi Ayele