ERIC Number: EJ777381
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Reference Count: 0
Designing, Visualizing, and Discussing Algorithms within a CS 1 Studio Experience: An Empirical Study
Hundhausen, Christopher D.; Brown, Jonathan L.
Computers & Education, v50 n1 p301-326 Jan 2008
Within the context of an introductory CS1 unit on algorithmic problem-solving, we are exploring the pedagogical value of a novel active learning activity--the "studio experience"--that actively engages learners with algorithm visualization technology. In a studio experience, student pairs are tasked with (a) developing a solution to an algorithm design problem, (b) constructing an accompanying visualization with a storyline, and finally (c) presenting that visualization for feedback and discussion in a session modeled after an architectural "design crit." Is a studio experience educationally valuable? What kind of technology can best support it? To explore these questions, we conducted an empirical study of two alternative CS1 studio experiences in which students used one of two different kinds of algorithm development and visualization technology: (a) a text editor coupled with art supplies, or (b) ALVIS Live!, a computer-based algorithm development and visualization tool. We found that the students who used ALVIS Live! developed algorithms with significantly fewer semantic errors. Moreover, discussions mediated by ALVIS Live! had significantly more student audience contributions, and retained a sharper focus on the specific details of algorithm behavior, leading to the collaborative identification and repair of semantic errors. In addition, discussions mediated by both ALVIS Live! and art supplies contained substantial evidence of higher order thinking. Based on our results, we make recommendations for educators interested in exploring studio-based approaches, and we propose an agenda for future research into studio-based learning in computer science education.
Descriptors: Mathematics, Active Learning, Computer Software, Word Processing, Computer Science Education, Problem Solving
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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