Identifying student difficulties with basic data structures

Daniel Zingaro, Cynthia Taylor, Leo Porter, Michael Clancy, Cynthia Lee, Soohyun Nam Liao, Kevin C. Webb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

To be effective instructors and CS education researchers, we must identify and understand student difficulties surrounding core computing topics. This study examines student difficulties with the basic data structures commonly found in CS2 courses. Initial exploration of student thinking began with think-aloud interviews with students. These interviews centered on open-ended questions that were iteratively improved upon based on analysis of interview transcripts. The revised open-ended questions were then posed to 249 students during an end-of-term final exam study session. Using the explanations and justifications included by students, responses to the questions were coded and summarized. This work characterizes the difficulties revealed by student responses, and provides details of their prevalence among the examined student population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICER 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages169-177
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781450356282
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event14th Annual International Computing Education Research Conference, ICER 2018 - Espoo, Finland
Duration: Aug 13 2018Aug 15 2018

Publication series

NameICER 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research

Conference

Conference14th Annual International Computing Education Research Conference, ICER 2018
CountryFinland
CityEspoo
Period8/13/188/15/18

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Education

Keywords

  • CS2
  • Data structures
  • Difficulties

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