Giving feedback in the middle of assignments

Hi all,

One issue we ran into last semester was providing feedback to students in the middle of assignments. The system we used is that students would either email us or submit an issue, and then we would clone their repo, write down suggestions in the code using comments (all assignments were done in R), and then push these changes back. However, we ran into problems with merging if students continued to work on the assignment and changed code while we provided instructions. This was an introductory class, and we did not want to bog them down with merge conflicts.

Do you have a better way of submitting code feedback or suggestions in the middle of assignments? We would love to hear your suggestions!


Hi @jfiksel

The most natural way of providing feedback is through Pull Requests (PR). This way, there won’t be any interference with the student’s workflow.

To implement this approach, the teacher can create first a dedicated branch - call it review - off of the last commit of the starter code and then open up a PR with review as base branch and master as compare branch. At this point, the teacher will proceed with code review.

The mechanism of PR is so handy that can be also used by students to turn in their solutions to the assignments.

We are employing this reviewing system quite effectively in our courses. Take a glance at this summary and, in particular, to the section I was referring to above regarding the collaborative code review.


Thanks, this is very useful! This is something we considered doing, but ended up deciding against–partially because we didn’t have a useful guide, like the one you put together, but also because we were teaching an introductory course and didn’t want to get too deep into branches, etc…but I think this is the best solution going forward.

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I can see your point @jfiksel. Even though I believe that working with Git and staying away from the branches is almost impossible, in this case, the teacher is the unique agent dealing with the further branch and the PR itself, whereas the students need to train themselves only for browsing the review through the GitHub UI, which I reckon represents a minimal effort.

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I completely agree–I think we were just cautious with the extent to which we dove into Git and GitHub due to most students in the class having pretty much 0 computer expertise, outside of using the internet and word processing. I think it’s worth using this feature next course though!


You might also submit your comments in a new copy of the original file in the same repository. That would probably make merges simple.

You could also email back the code with suggestions, or paste it into the issue.

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Yes, We usually generate issues for students feedback.

The tool ghi may help with this.

For instance, being in a student repo, the command ghi open -w

carlos-dominguez-garcia/module-test(master)]$ ghi open -w

will open the browser in the issues page for this student.

the command:

$ ghi open -w ULL-ESIT-PL-1718/npm-modules-alu0100973914

Opens the browser in the corresponding repo


$ ghi --help
usage: ghi [--version] [-p|--paginate|--no-pager] [--help] <command> [<args>]
           [ -- [<user>/]<repo>]

The most commonly used ghi commands are:
   list        List your issues (or a repository's)
   show        Show an issue's details
   open        Open (or reopen) an issue
   close       Close an issue
   edit        Modify an existing issue
   comment     Leave a comment on an issue
   label       Create, list, modify, or delete labels
   assign      Assign an issue to yourself (or someone else)
   milestone   Manage project milestones
   status      Determine whether or not issues are enabled for this repo
   enable      Enable issues for the current repo
   disable     Disable issues for the current repo

See 'ghi help <command>' for more information on a specific command.
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