ITiCSE 2003 AV Working Group

Evaluating the educational impact of algorithm visualization
Working Group at ITiCSE 2003, June 28-July 2, 2003

Visualization technology can be used to graphically illustrate various concepts in computer science. However, the instructional effectiveness of using such visualizations remains in doubt. Recent research has begun to show that visualization technology used in isolation may not be nearly as effective as when that technology is used in conjunction with strategies for "engaging" the students with the visualizations they watch. This suggests that what learners do, not what they see, may have the greatest impact on learning. In an attempt to formalize some of these results, the ITiCSE 2002 working group on "Improving the Educational Impact of Algorithm Visualization" developed a framework for conducting experimental studies of visualization effectiveness. That working group’s final report can be accessed in the ACM Digital Library. Central to this framework was a taxonomy of learner engagement with the visualization technology.

This year we hope to use the framework developed by that working group to plan and analyze a small number of effectiveness studies. Toward that end the new working group is seeking anyone who is interested in being part of planning experimental studies that collect some form of data regarding the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of using visualizations in attempting to help students learn computer science concepts. During the working group sessions in June we will develop the details of those plans. Then, after returning to our respective campuses, we will collectively examine the data we collect and determine how it fits into the engagement taxonomy from the previous year's report. In doing so, we hope to see how data from such individual carefully planned experiments fits into the "big picture" and gain further insight into how visualizations can be effectively used. We emphasize that we are not just interested in having participants from the 2002 working group apply for the 2003 group. Any educator with interest in planning and participating in a "visualization effectiveness study" will bring a valuable contribution to the 2003 group. In return, the group will help that educator make better sense out of the data that is collected and hopefully fit that data into the visualization taxonomy that the 2002 working group developed.

The final report for this Working Group is available here and in the ACM Digital Library.

© Dr. Guido Roessling 2015