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Learning how to program through visualization: A pilot study on the Bubble Sort algorithm

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2 Author(s)
Bellstrom, P. ; Dept. of Inf. Syst., Karlstad Univ., Karlstad, Sweden ; Thoren, C.

A well-known difficulty when teaching and learning programming is the diverse educational background of IT students. In this paper we argue that a central factor agitating this problem is the tradition of teaching programming using a syntax perspective: Between the initial step of learning syntax, and the end step of achieving practical application, logic exists as a midpoint, representing the students' understanding. In this paper we propose the opposite strategy: We present a qualitative pilot study that within its initial findings indicate that through visualization, the logic component in the learning process can be empowered to facilitate an application perspective to achieve syntax. Previous research in the field shows that there is potential for using visualization to eliminate the obstacle of abstract problem-solving for students of programming. Our study uses the simple but multilayered bubble sort algorithm to examine how visualization can promote a theory of understanding that facilitates learning and comprehension through application rather than through syntax. The initial results of the pilot study indicate that there is definite potential for visualization to assist students of varying backgrounds when learning programming.

Published in:

Applications of Digital Information and Web Technologies, 2009. ICADIWT '09. Second International Conference on the

Date of Conference:

4-6 Aug. 2009