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Effect of algorithms’ multiple representations in the context of programming education

Stefania Siozou (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Nikolaos Tselios (Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, Rio, Greece)
Vassilis Komis (Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, Rio, Greece)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 21 November 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the effect of different representations while teaching basic algorithmic concepts to novice programmers.

Design/methodology/approach

A learning activity was designed and mediated with two conceptually different learning environments, each one used by a different group. The first group used the learning environment “Visual Flowchart”, which enables the students to construct and examine an algorithm using visual representation based on actual flowchart objects. The second group used the software “Language Interpreter”, which allows the students to express an algorithms using pseudocode.

Findings

Analysis of results among the two groups showed no statistically significant differences in the students’ performance with respect to the tool they used to solve the activity, the school stream they followed in high school and their gender.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of difference among the two groups could be attributed to the non‐complicated nature of the given activity. In addition, longitudinal studies of the effect of the different representation in the frame of an introductory first semester academic course in computer science could further validate the results.

Practical implications

Two alternative learning environments aimed to support learning of basic programming skills.

Originality/value

Two alternative learning environments were presented and discussed in detail, aimed to support learning of basic programming skills. The conclusions of the present study are in contrast to the research that has taken place in the past which compared usage of flowcharts and pseudocode to educate novice programmers, and wider adoption of “flowcharts” was depicted.

Keywords

Citation

Siozou, S., Tselios, N. and Komis, V. (2008), "Effect of algorithms’ multiple representations in the context of programming education", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 230-243. https://doi.org/10.1108/17415650810930910

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited