Prof. Dr. h.c. Hasso Plattner

Dr. Ralf Teusner

Research Assistant

Ralf Teusner

Phone: +49 (0)331 5509 - 1301
Fax: +49 (0)331 97992 - 579
Skype: ralf.teusner
Email: ralf.teusner(at)hpi.de
Room: Hasso-Plattner-Villa, V2.18
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LinkedIn: Profile


Bridging the Gap Between Learners and Instructors in Online Programming Education

Massive Open Online Courses with their low entry barriers and their ability to scale to thousands of students are a suitable approach to “educate the masses”. However, they face several substantial challenges, such as a feeling of anonymity and an increased social gap between instructors and students caused by students’ isolated physical situation. Further, any means of individual feedback are mostly prohibited by the mismatch between thousands of students and only few instructors.

In this research we develop, implement, and evaluate different approaches to improve students’ learning experience within online programming courses. Data of four programming MOOCs with over 60.000 students and over 5 million task submissions are employed to determine criteria for successful courses. We tackle the identified issues with scalable technical solutions implented within our execution environment CodeOcean, improving social interaction and balancing course difficulty. Our scientific contributions include an approach for struggle detection triggering situational interventions, means for personalizing educational content, as well as concepts to foster collaborative problem solving. With these approaches, we reduce counterproductive struggles and create a universal improvement for arbitrary programming MOOCs.

Gathered data show that receiving feedback from peers to one’s programming problems improves overall course scores by up to 17%. Solely phrasing a question about ones’ problem on the platform improved overall scores by about 14%. The rate of students reaching out for help was improved by situational just-in-time interventions by over 150%.

Keywords: programming, MOOCs, collaboration, didactical interventions



  • Matthies, C., Huegle, J., Dürschmid, T., Teusner, R.: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Development Data Concerning Agile Software Development Practices. In: Felderer, M., Hasselbring, W., Rabiser, R., and Jung, R. (eds.) Software Engineering 2020. pp. 73-74. Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V., Bonn (2020).
  • More than Code: Contribut... - Download
    Ramin, F., Matthies, C., Teusner, R.: More than Code: Contributions in Scrum Software Engineering Teams.Proceedings of the IEEE/ACM 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering Workshops. pp. 137-140. ACM, New York, NY, USA (2020).


  • Attitudes, Beliefs, and D... - Download
    Matthies, C., Huegle, J., Dürschmid, T., Teusner, R.: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Development Data Concerning Agile Software Development Practices.2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering Education and Training (ICSE-SEET). pp. 158-169. IEEE (2019).


  • On the Impact of Programm... - Download
    Teusner, R., Hille, T.: On the Impact of Programming Exercise Descriptions.Proceedings of the 2018 Learning With MOOCS (LWMOOCS2018). pp. 51-54. IEEE (2018).
  • Effects of Automated Inte... - Download
    Teusner, R., Hille, T., Staubitz, T.: Effects of Automated Interventions in Programming Assignments: Evidence from a Field Experiment.L@S 2018: Fifth Annual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale (2018).
  • What Stays in Mind? - Ret... - Download
    Teusner, R., Matthies, C., Staubitz, T.: What Stays in Mind? - Retention Rates in Programming MOOCs.2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (2018).
  • Beyond Surveys: Analyzing... - Download
    Matthies, C., Teusner, R., Hesse, G.: Beyond Surveys: Analyzing Software Development Artifacts to Assess Teaching Efforts.IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). pp. 1-9 (2018).


  • Should I Bug You? Identif... - Download
    Teusner, R., Matthies, C., Giese, P.: Should I Bug You? Identifying Domain Experts in Software Projects Using Code Complexity Metrics.2017 IEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability and Security (QRS). pp. 418-425 (2017).
  • Taking Informed Action on... - Download
    Teusner, R., Rollmann, K.-A., Renz, J.: Taking Informed Action on Student Activity in MOOCs.Proceedings of the Fourth (2017) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale. pp. 149-152. ACM, New York, NY, USA (2017).
  • Aspects on Finding the Op... - Download
    Teusner, R., Hille, T., Hagedorn, C.: Aspects on Finding the Optimal Practical Programming Exercise for MOOCs.Proceedings of the 47th Annual Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference. IEEE (2017).
  • Video Conferencing as a P... - Download
    Teusner, R., Wittstruck, N., Staubitz, T.: Video Conferencing as a Peephole to MOOC Participants.2017 IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE). IEEE (2017).
  • Staubitz, T., Teusner, R., Meinel, C.: Towards a Repository for Open Auto-Gradable Programming Exercises.2017 IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE) (2017).
  • Staubitz, T., Teusner, R., Meinel, C.: openHPI's Coding Tool Family: CodeOcean, CodeHarbor, CodePilot.Automatische Bewertung von Programmieraufgaben (ABP) (2017).


  • Richly, K., Teusner, R.: Where is the Money Made? An Interactive Visualization of Profitable Areas in New York City.The 2nd EAI International Conference on IoT in Urban Space (Urb-IoT) (2016).


  • Richly, K., Teusner, R., Immer, A., Windheuser, F., Wolf, L.: Optimizing Routes of Public Transportation Systems by Analyzing the Data of Taxi Rides.Workshop on Smart Cities and Urban Analytics, in conjunction with 23rd ACM International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems (ACM SIGSPATIAL) (2015).
  • Kowark, T., Teusner, R., Richly, K., Plattner, H.: RepMine: A System for Transferrable Analyses of Collaboration Activities in Software Engineering.2015 Workshop on Software Support for Collaborative and Global Software Engineering, In conjunction with the 30th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (2015).
  • Teusner, R., Richly, K., Staubitz, T., Renz, J.: Enhancing Content between Iterations of a MOOC – Effects on Key Metrics.EMOOCs 2015: European MOOCs Stakeholder Summit. pp. 147-156 (2015).


  • Haeger, F., Teusner, R.: Scaling Design Thinking - Using a multi-team design thinking workshop to kick start software projects. Presented at the , Tel Aviv (2014).
  • Teusner, R., Perscheid, M., Appeltauer, M., Enderlein, J., Klingbeil, T., Kusber, M.: PopulAid: In-Memory Data Generation for Customized Benchmarks.Workshop on Big Data Benchmarking (WBDB) (2014).


  • Grünewald, F., Mazandarani, E., Meinel, C., Teusner, R., Totschnig, M., Willems, C.: openHPI: Soziales und Praktisches Lernen im Kontext eines MOOC.in Proceedings of DeLFI 2013 - 11. e-Learning Fachtagung Informatik (2013).
  • Grünewald, F., Mazandarani, E., Meinel, C., Teusner, R., Totschnig, M., Willems, C.: openHPI - a Case-Study on the Emergence of two Learning Communities.EDUCON (2013).
  • Teusner, R., Gabrysiak, G., Richter, S., Kleff, S.: Interactive Strategy-Based Validation of Behavioral Models.GTVMT (2013).