I spent part of my day grading the latest assignment from my accelerated Python course. On that assignment I asked them to develop a simple addition game for kids. The game generates two random single-digit numbers and then asks the user to enter the answer, tracking the number of incorrect and correct submissions. In the assignment description I indicated that the game should be for children and in class I clarified that meant they should keep the feedback appropriate for children. So far I haven’t seen any inappropriate user interactions, but I did see one student who went above and beyond the assignment description. He not only wrote encouraging prompts but he added two special messages, one for someone who earns a perfect score and one for someone who doesn’t get any correct. It was a cute and clever addition, and I’ve asked him if I can share it with the class.
It now has me wondering how I can encourage this sort of thing among my students. I love to see students who think of smart ways to do more than what I required in a way that improves their code and even the problem. I’m not sure if pointing out students who go above and beyond will do it, whether it just depends on the make-up of a particular class, or if there’s a low-maintenance approach that will make this happen more often.