NC State University

Department of Computer Science Colloquia 2003-2004

Date:   Thursday, October 2, 2003
Time:   Room 402A Withers, NCSU Historical Campus
Place:   4:00 (Talk) (click for courtesy parking request)

Speaker:   Mark Holliday , Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Western Carolina University

Using Memory Diagrams for Assessment of Student Comprehension of Object-Oriented Programs

Abstract:   Understanding the execution of an object-oriented program can be a challenge for a student starting a CS1 course. We believe that a type of diagram that we call memory diagrams can both aid the student in understanding object-oriented programming and aid the instructor in assessing the student's understanding.

Memory diagrams focus on how, in an abstract sense, the memory of the machine changes as the program executes. Though memory diagrams are a simple idea, by careful use of shape and placement, a number of key points about the meaning of a program fragment can be conveyed visually. After introducing memory diagrams we first discuss how they can be used in qualitative assessment of student comprehension of object-oriented programs. We then present some preliminary work on evaluating their use in quantitative assessment. We conclude with plans for future work. This work was done jointly with David Luginbuhl of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of Western Carolina University.

Short Bio:   Mark Holliday received his Ph.D. Degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Western Carolina University. His research interests are in computer science education and in performance evaluation of memory management in uniprocessors and shared memory multiprocessors.

Host:   Edward Gehringer, Computer Science, NCSU

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