Experiences in Usability Evaluation of Educational Programming Tools

Experiences in Usability Evaluation of Educational Programming Tools

J. Ángel Velázquez-Iturbide (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain), Antonio Pérez-Carrasco (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain) and Ouafae Debdi (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1987-6.ch011
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This chapter advocates for an approach to constructing educational tools that consists in designing small systems aimed at achieving clear educational goals and evaluating them in actual teaching situations. The authors addressed this approach with a number of small systems. In this chapter, they describe their experience in the development, use, and evaluation of two educational systems: SRec and GreedEx. The former is a highly interactive program animation system of recursion, and the latter is an interactive assistant aimed at learning the role of selection functions in greedy algorithms by means of experimentation. The evaluations allowed the authors to identify faults and weaknesses of the systems, and these results were used to enhance the systems. Moreover, their approach has yielded very high values with respect to effectiveness and student satisfaction.
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2. Background

In this section, we introduce some issues, which are preliminary with respect to the rest of the chapter. Firstly, some concepts of programming and algorithms are briefly introduced, such as recursion and greedy algorithms. Secondly, the main concepts on visualization and animation are given. Thirdly, Bloom’s taxonomy is outlined as a framework to state learning goals. Fourthly, we review the myriad of existing systems for programming education, with an emphasis on their explicit learning goals. Finally, the usability methods we have used will be identified and placed in the context of the usability methods currently available, mainly expert evaluations, questionnaires, and observations.

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