Center for Teaching and Learning

April 2, 2020

14 – Git Version Control Tools Enhance Instructor Feedback and Team Interactions

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  • Chad Curtis, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, UW Seattle
  • Griffin Ruehl, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, UW Seattle
  • Jack Rumptz, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, UW Seattle


Git as a form of version control has traditionally been limited to use by software developers, but provides a unique opportunity for educations to provide course content, give dynamic feedback to students, and foster a collaborative environment. Git and GitHub are tools to manage changes to files and documents, especially among teams and groups. When used as a method of feedback delivery, instructor feedback can be directly integrated into student assignments as they are being completed.

We are implementing git as a key course component in a project-based chemical engineering design course that has no strong software component to demonstrate that the benefits of using git aren’t limited to software courses. We seek to demonstrate that the git as a form of version control can be used to improve instructor feedback and enhance interactions among team members when compared to traditional tools available to students such as the default tools available in the learning management platform Canvas. Each section of the two-section course will be taught using either GitHub or Canvas for homework submission and project management. Students will be able to address instructor feedback prior to resubmitting homework assignments. A post-instruction survey will be administered to students to gauge their perception of either GitHub or Canvas in the learning process. Student homework grades before and after receiving instructor feedback will also be compared.

Students reported that GitHub had a positive effect on their learning experience in previous studies implemented in an engineering data science class (on a scale of 1 to 10, median score of 9.0 ± 1.0 for homework submission via GitHub and 9.0 ± 2.3 for feedback via GitHub, n=44). This can potentially provide instructors, regardless of discipline, with an additional set of tools that can enhance feedback mechanisms and team productivity.