Success Messages

This page describes how to write the success message that appears when the student completes the exercise.

Examples

From Working with parquet files in "Introduction to Spark in R using sparklyr". This has a creative piece of praise, followed by a heuristic that is useful to know, but hard to demonstrate directly in the exercise.

Smooth as some parquet flooring! Reading and writing Parquet files is much quicker than reading and writing CSV files, and typically faster than using copy_to().

From Exploring ggplot2, part 1 in "Data Visualization with ggplot2 (Part 1)". This begins with (almost) alliterative praise, followed by a comment that draws the student's attention to the plot that they just drew. It mentions a problem that motivates the following exercise.

Phenomenal plotting! Notice that ggplot2 treats cyl as a continuous variable. You get a plot, but it's not quite right, because it gives the impression that there is such a thing as a 5 or 7-cylinder car, which there is not.

FAQs

How do I think of good praise?

In R, you can use the praise package. In particular, praise::praise_parts lists many positive words, categorized as adjectives and abverbs. Another possibility using R is

library(tidytext)
library(dplyr)
get_sentiments() %>% arrange(desc(score))

Failing that, try a thesaurus!

How long should the success message be?

The message should consist of a few words of praise followed by one of two sentences of something informative. Do not write an essay here!

Good ideas

Be creative about the praise

"Great!" is not as great as you think! It's good to have a bit of variation. Try using rhymes or alliteration, and relating the praise to the contents of the exercise.

Draw attention to the results

For exercises that get the students to calculate results or draw a plot, it's very easy for the student to complete the exercise then not actually look at what they've just done. A success message that highlights interesting results can be used to get the students to go back and look at what they just made.

Motivate the next exercise

By highlighting a problem with something in the exercise, you can motivate the contents of the next exercise (where you solve that problem).

Common problems and their solutions

Not writing anything

It is technically possible to get away with not writing anything useful in the success message, but this is a wasted opportunity. Remember that the success mesage is the last thing the student sees before they rate your exercise!

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