Parson’s Problems for Interactive Assessment

Parson’s Puzzles help efficient learning and assessment in all fields.

Screenshot of a Parson Problem

In his Computing Education Blog, Parson’s Problems have the same learning gains as writing or fixing code, Mark Guzdial highlighted how useful Parson’s Problems can be for interactive learning modules.

Not Just Computer Science
The article emphasizes how useful these exercises can be for computer science, but these same concepts could be used for many other fields. For example, a healthcare module might use this technique to ensure that the students can follow the specific steps needed for specific procedures such as taking blood pressure or drawing blood.

One of the most interesting points to this learning tool is adding in distractors. Instead of a one-to-one answer, add in extra items that don’t meet the procedure being tested.

This is a sample Parson Puzzle, CSS Flexbox, built using Articulate Storyline 360, that I include in one of my web programming tutorials. The tutorial shows the code with examples and this puzzle is used as a summary page midway through the tutorial.

Here is a screenshot of the correct answer ;-)

Answer for Flexbox Palmer Puzzle

Here is the original study, Parson’s Programming Puzzles: A Fun and Effective Learning Tool for First Programming Courses by Dale Parsons and Patricia Haden.

Author: Peter K. Johnson

Teaching web development since 2000. I specialize in making education interesting and engaging on the Web.