Year Long 3-User Trial of Code-Memory Diagram Animation Software for Teaching Computer Programming: Learning, Object Oriented Programming, & Workloads

M. Dixon (UK)


Teaching computer programming, animation software, evaluation.


Recently, difficulties in learning and teaching computer programming have been addressed by software which animates the impact that individual lines of program code have on computer memory. Evaluations provided quantitative and qualitative evidence for it’s potential to enhance student learning, when used by the developer (lecturer). However, it is unclear whether this success was applicable to the generic computer lecturer population (allowing rapid creation and adaptation of animations to specific needs of different student groups), or localised to the lecturer/developer’s specific students and work practice. This paper describes the software’s use by 3 computing lecturers in ‘live’ teaching. Lecturers were interviewed to determine the software’s impact on learning and teaching work-practice (both preparation and contact time), focusing on factors influencing the degree of adoption by lecturers. The lecturers described creating animations as quick and easy, but requiring some time and imagination. The number of animations produced was restricted by workload, and prioritised by student need. The lecturers indicated that the software enhanced their ability to support student learning of both structural and object oriented programming concepts. A subtle design flaw (potentially confusing to students) was identified and rectified, highlighting the importance of thorough evaluation of educational technology prior to ‘live’ teaching use.

Important Links:

Go Back