PPIG 2008 - 20th Annual Workshop
A Study of Visualization in Introductory Programming
Jussi Kasurinen, Mika Purmonen, Uolevi Nikula
Abstract: The teaching of fundamental programming skills is a field that extensively uses different kinds of tools to enhance learning experience. These tools come in several sizes, offering wide range of different equipment or approaches to the teaching of introductory programming curricula. At the same time, computer sciences, and programming courses in particular, suffer from high drop-out rates and falling student grades. Students lose interest on programming because of several complex models and structures have to be learned before anything visually impressive can be created. This problem is intensified by the new multimedia environments like games and applets, whereas command line programs and data algorithms have lost impact and are not considered interesting. So can visualization tools be used to increase the student motivation and create motivational tasks to promote interest towards programming?
This paper describes a project to enhance student motivation and interest towards programming in the introductory programming course by applying visualization tool to lecture demonstrations and to the course assignments. We present the results from the course and observed student reactions to introduction of a visualization application. Finally we discuss the impact of the visual demonstrations and project assignments from the motivational point of view, and present future improvement plans and observations based on the results of the development project and course outcome.