Animating programs and students in the laboratory

James F. Korsh, Paul S. LaFollette, Raghvinder S. Sangwan

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Program animation is a well-recognized tool for the enhancement of understanding of algorithms and data structures. The difficulty of creating animations, however, has limited the use of animation by students. This is especially so in introductory courses where the students need to concentrate on the material to be learned and should not be distracted by irrelevant details of an animation system. We have developed a prototype system which allows students (or instructors) to create C/C++ programs which are self-animating. Use of this system does not require learning any extra programming skills. Users need only specify which variables and data structures they want to be animated. This is done by declaring those elements of the program to be `self-animating' types. Typically, this would mean substituting INT for int. Similar changes allow for the self-animation of arrays, structs, and pointers. At present, our implementation supports ints and types derived from ints using pointers, arrays, and structs. The resulting C/C++ program appears in an integrated display environment that provides animation of the selected data items, and also shows the source code with the currently animated instruction highlighted. The environment also organizes program information in a way that is meaningful to the programmer, and allows the programmer to control the degree of detail that he or she wants to see. Our experience has been that students are excited and enthusiastic about this technique. This paper will briefly describe the system and, by using examples, show the ease with which students or instructors can create animations in the laboratory or classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1142
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998
EventProceedings of the 1998 28th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE. Part 3 (of 3) - Tempe, AZ, USA
Duration: Nov 4 1998Nov 7 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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