Why We Do Coding Collaboration Sessions at Qwasar

Feb 1, 2024 8:26:31 AM / by Kristen Capuzzo

Qwasar uses a modern learning approach, meaning learning is focused on developing skills and competencies through applied, experiential learning. Most humans actually learn best in this manner, and it is a very different system than the traditional lecture-exam model.

Collaboration is one of those highly-sought after “soft skills” that employers want and that bosses want you to have. It is not something that is learned through lectures or videos - you have to actually do it and be placed in situations and scenarios to actually collaborate with others.

With that, every week at Qwasar, we run Coding Collaboration Sessions, which offer learners an opportunity to work on problems together and collaborate.

What is a Coding Collaboration Session?

Coding collaboration sessions are designed to help students learn to work together. During each session, students of all levels are divided into small groups to work on a timed challenge. Each group will focus on an assigned technical interview question or problem and, at the conclusion of the session, will share their solution and learnings with the other groups.

At the end of the session, students complete a “Skills Check'' quiz to test familiarity with common terminology and questions that they may experience during an interview. This quiz does not count towards the Qwasar curriculum as the question difficulty varies greatly and students are not expected to know all answers. 

Coding collaboration sessions are held weekly.

Coding Collaboration Session Goals:

  • Improve teamwork and critical thinking skills
  • Build presentation skills
  • Expose students to common interview questions and terminology
  • Build community among students

Why We Do Coding Collaboration Sessions at Qwasar

How is Coding Collaboration Used in Industry?

Coding collaboration, often referred to as pair programming in industry, is used for a variety of reasons relating to efficiency and effectiveness. Knowledge transfer is common in industry as a way for senior developers to share expertise with junior developers and gain new techniques. It also helps with quality assurance and improving code quality.

Further, two or more people working on the same project allows for real-time feedback, reduction of errors, improvement of errors and adherence to best practices. This also helps with less debugging later and saving time on employees schedules.

On the job, pair programming is actually a great way to build camaraderie and form relationships among team members that are collaborating on a project - many engineers enjoy pair programming and find it a highlight of their job. The team becomes more cohesive and they are better able to communicate and work together on future projects.

Another way pair programming is implemented in industry is through onboarding new team members. New hires will work closely with experienced developers to get up to speed quickly and learn the codebase of that specific company’s development process and practices.

8 Reasons Why We Do Coding Collaboration Sessions

  1. Preparation for Industry

Throughout any job you have in the tech industry, you will have opportunities to work with others. It’s a natural component of the work and how things get done. These sessions are a great way to prepare and understand how group projects and coding works. It focuses on delegating the work and helps learners gain confidence in communicating with others in their small groups. It’s a perfect example of a real-world simulation that prepares learners for teamwork in professional settings where coding projects are often developed collaboratively

  1. Problem Solving Skills

Coding collaboration sessions really hone a learners problem solving skills by enabling them to work with others on getting through a problem to reach a solution. They will go through each of the following stages multiple times to get better and better:

  • Understand it
  • Analyze it
  • Plan the solution, translate the solution into code
  • Test and debug
  • Use resources available or find answers

Working together will make them understand how their peers are approaching the problem and how they are critically thinking about the solution. This is an essential skillset for lifelong learning and any industry technical career.

  1. Gain New Perspectives

Working in a group with different people will expose learners to different and new ways of approaching a problem and thinking through a solution. It usually is different from the way they might have considered approaching it initially. This will broaden their horizon and skill set and allow them to learn in a new way and implement it in real time with someone else to show you. It gives them a chance to seek knowledge and advice from others in real time who are at the same or similar point in the curriculum. Working with peers exposes individuals to different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. This diversity can lead to more creative and effective solutions to coding challenges.

  1. Code Quality and Shared Best Practices

An added benefit of coding collaboration sessions is that the quality of the submitted code is much higher than one your own. With multiple people working on the same problem together, there are more people to review it and check for mistakes. This leads to higher code quality and shared best practices. By divvying the work up and then reviewing it, they’re able to reference best practices and utilize skill diversification to create a great final product. Having multiple sets o f “eyes” on a piece of work allows for a better final product. Collaborative coding allows individuals to specialize in certain areas, fostering a more well-rounded team with a diverse skill set.

  1. Developing Communication Skills

These meetings are an ideal opportunity for learners to build their communication skills with others. They find ways to work with others and communicate how to get to the solution of their problem. This takes time and practice throughout the program, but providing multiple opportunities to build upon these skills is crucial. Working together in a group with other learners who are at similar points in the curriculum helps build on teamwork skills. They each will leverage one another's strengths and weaknesses to solve the task at hand, which is something they will do often in any industry job. Each week, they will rotate working with new cohort members to further develop these skills. An added benefit of this is constructive feedback on work and style of coding/problem solving, idea expression, and the chance to ask questions in an open space. 

  1. Building a Sense of Community

One of the biggest reasons for collaboration sessions is to get immersed within the Qwasar community and get to know others within your cohort. Especially in a remote setting, it can be difficult to feel connected and network. This is an outlet to work with different members on different problems who you may become friends with and work on another project with later. It also serves as a chance to find a mentor or be able to offer support to someone within the community through these group sessions.

  1. Practicing Presentation Skills

When the session concludes and the groups reconvene to discuss their projects, someone in the group presents the project to the entire collaboration session. This is an opportunity to build confidence in presenting skills as well as confidence in the work completed. A lot of learners struggle with confidence in the early stages of their tech training especially if they’ve never coded before. 

  1. Practicing Time Management

Coding collaboration sessions teach students to effectively manage their time when working with others on a project. They are tasked with a problem and given 30 minutes to complete it with their group members. They need to coordinate efforts with one another in a manner that efficiently meets the project deadline. They also need to decide on a person to present the findings when the group reconvenes after the session. This involves deciding who can efficiently convey the project results to the rest of the cohort.

Why We Do Coding Collaboration Sessions at Qwasar

Success Outcomes From Coding Collaboration Sessions

Working together in pairs has proven time after time to lead to brilliant projects and great results. Many students are able to connect with others who they never would have thought they would. They’re able to work together and network and build their skills in an environment that is designed for them to share skills. Oftentimes, learners will continue to work together with their partners on other projects or “fun projects” outside of the curriculum like building a Qwasar chatbot or developing a mobile app. This level of creativity is fostered through collaborating and sharing ideas in a space that is industry-standard, but many bootcamps and MOOCs don’t allow for. 

Kristen Capuzzo

Written by Kristen Capuzzo