Using Animations to Learn about Algorithms: An Ethnographic Case Study
Kehoe, Colleen Mary
Stasko, John T.
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A number of studies have found that using animation for explaining dynamic systems had less beneficial effects on learning than hoped. Those results come as a surprise to many instructors and students in computer science where animation is becoming an increasingly popular tool for teaching algorithms. This study takes an ethnomethodological approach, observing students using animations and other media to learn about an algorithm. We do not answer the question, "Do animations aid learning?" nor the question "How do they aid learning?" Rather, we gain some insight into how animations can fit into successful learning strategies. Finally, we present several key observations that we hope educators and researchers can use to inform their own work with algorithm animation.