Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Communications and Multimedia
The growing use of computers and computer technology is creating a worldwide need for more programmers and computer professionals. The increasing complexity of programming languages and applications is demanding higher skills sets from the programmers who are being trained. Kann et al. (1997) suggest that the graphic representation of algorithms used in most textbooks are too abstract and insufficient for learners to develop the logical thinking required in computer science courses. Many programming students have problems due to a lack of understanding of conceptual and mental models (Soloway et al., 1981). This paper describes the development of an alternative teaching approach, based on constructivist learning principles, and multimedia technologies. The Dynamic Interactive Visualisation Tool in teaching C (DIVTIC), uses multimedia and visual imagery to provide learners with a step-by-step representation of program executions in the C language as a means to enhance their understanding. DIVTIC was designed around constructivist principles, and combines collaborative and visualisation learning strategies with use of the Internet and the World Wide Web to support the learning of programming. This paper will describe the conceptual framework supporting the design of DIVTIC and will report on a study which sought to explore the effectiveness of its use among a cohort of students studying introductory programming at Suranaree University of Technology (SUT) in Thailand. The paper will describe how the students used DIVTIC and will discuss how this use was able to support and encourage their learning.