As we’re sure most of our readers know, DataCamp is an online learning platform that aims to teach users the particular essential coding exercise and other skills related to data science and machine learning in a script window. DataCamp prides itself on providing its users with the best possible learning experience solution, and that usually means allowing users to work through problems independently.
However, there will be times when an exercise is a particularly challenging code, and that’s where hints come in. If you’re creating an exercise for DataCamp, you should also create hints to help users navigate the problem, should they need a little extra help.
Writing a good hint for your DataCamp exercise involves finding a balance between providing enough information, and giving too much away. If you would like to learn how to write great hints for DataCamp, you’re in the right place, because this guide has all the information you need to know what happens if you click Hint for Datacamp.
What Makes A Good DataCamp Hint?
Identifying Potential Problems
In order to write a good hint for a DataCamp exercise, the first thing you will need to do is identify potential problems users could encounter. Basically, you need to put yourself in the user’s shoes and think about which aspect(s) of the exercise might cause them to get stuck.
If you can’t identify a problem while writing out the exercise, you can wait until you have launched your course. Then, you can access the Diff Viewer through the Content Dashboard, and this will show you what kinds of problems users are encountering on individual exercises. You can use this information as the basis for your hint.
The exercises you include in your DataCamp course should be solvable based on the information you’ve provided earlier in the course. If that’s not the case, we recommend going back and re-writing or re-distributing your exercises, because it’s not fair to expect users to solve problems based on information they don’t have.
Assuming that you have provided the relevant information in your course already, it’s safe to assume that users are struggling with the problem because they have simply forgotten the information. It happens to the best of us. In this case, the best thing you can do in your hint is to try to refresh the user’s memory.
For example, you could write something along the lines of “This follows the same format as we used in the previous problem”.
Specifying Necessary Case And Characters
Sometimes, users may struggle to answer a problem in DataCamp, not because they don’t remember the information, but because there is some confusion about case sensitivity and the specific characters they need to use.
For example, if the answer to the exercise is case-sensitive, you should specify this in the hint to make sure that users aren’t entering the correct answer in the incorrect case and getting frustrated. Similarly, if a specific symbol needs to be used to assign an argument (within a call, for instance), this is a good piece of information to include in the hint.
No Repeating Information
A good DataCamp exercise hint should be as helpful as possible, without actually giving away the answer (more on this in a moment). This means that you should avoid simply repeating or rewording the information provided in the instructions.
Logically, if the course user didn’t understand the answer based on the information given the first time, they’re not going to understand if you just repeat it or write it in a slightly different way.
It’s especially important not to provide reworded information in the form of a hint because users have to spend some of their XP to view the hint, so they are likely to become very frustrated if they feel those XP have been wasted on an unhelpful hint.
Answer Not Provided
While you definitely don’t want to re-write or reword the instruction in your hint, you also don’t want to give the answer away entirely. Remember, the point is to encourage users to use their problem-solving skills and learn, even when receiving help.
Even providing part of the answer in the hint can be problematic, because users may be able to simply copy and paste that part of the answer into the problem. Of course, this still leaves them to figure out the rest of the answers, but it means they won’t have learned anything to help them find the first part.
You ideally want your users to have to engage their thinking skills at least a bit, even if they’re struggling enough to spend XP to view the hint. A good rule of thumb is to allow the student to get 50% of the way through the answer using the hint. They should still have to use their memory and problem-solving skills for the other 50%.
How Many Hints Per Instruction?
One hint for each instruction is generally a good amount of help to provide. You definitely won’t want to provide any more hints than this for simpler exercises because this could essentially give away the answer entirely.
With that being said, as you approach the end of your course, your users might be learning more complex information, and the exercises may be more difficult as a result.
If an instruction involves combining multiple pieces of information learned throughout the course, it may be a good idea to provide more than one hint to help the user piece together all the necessary steps of the problem.
Pay Attention To Hint Percentages
By entering the Course Dashboard, you can access a lot of information about how users are interacting with your exercises. This includes the percentage of users asking for a hint on individual exercises. DataCamp specifies that 35% is an ideal hint percentage.
This means that the exercise is challenging enough that just over a third of students need an extra prompt, but most are able to find the answer using the knowledge they have accumulated during your course. If you find that one or more of your exercises have a particularly high hint percentage, this is definitely something to look into.
The first thing to do is check whether students have left any feedback on the problem in question, such as ‘I don’t remember learning this information’, or ‘specifying case sensitivity would be helpful here’. However, if you can’t see any direct feedback, it’s best to go and take the exercise yourself.
Of course, as the course leader, you will know the answer but try to look at it from the perspective of your students. Is your question worded clearly? Go back and look at the preceding course content. Is the required information definitely provided in the previous video?
Was the relevant information provided so long ago in the course that students might have forgotten it? If you spot a problem, fix it and see if the hint percentage goes down.
Using hints on DataCamp is one of the best ways to ensure that your students can complete all of the course exercises without giving away the answers.
Remember, when writing a hint, try to give the student 50% of the information they need to find the answer, refreshing their memory or specifying cases and characters without simply repeating the instructions.