Role of the Best Practices from Extant Literature in Current Algorithm and Data Structure Visualizations
Type of Degreethesis
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Although there are many algorithm visualizations today, there is a question as to why algorithm and data structure visualization technology has not proved its effectiveness and gained widespread acceptance in mainstream computing education. While there are many likely reasons behind this, one possibility is that current visualization systems as a whole need to better focus on adopting best practices advocated in the research literature. In particular, this work conjectures that visualization systems need to better address certain pedagogical requirements and best practice features to be effectively used for education purposes. The widespread adoption of commonly accepted best practices would be seen as an important step in the maturation of the software visualization field. Indeed, only when software visualization systems that support an accepted, pedagogically effective feature set are common and widely accessible will these systems have the opportunity to make a significant impact on computing education. After an extensive review of the extant literature, a set of best practices was selected to evaluate the central thesis question: To what extent do commonly available software visualization systems provide an appropriate, pedagogically effective feature set? This thesis question is further refined by four related research questions. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of data collected from the AlgoViz portal suggests that while a majority of visualization systems do not adhere to most best practices, there is a subset of relatively mature systems that provide a rich pedagogically effective feature set that is likely to enhance the teaching and learning environment.