Storytelling (Case Study 1)

An Engaging Way to Introduce Computing

Learning to program with Alice is an innovative approach to teaching and learning introductory programming and other computing concepts. Beginning students, including middle and high school students and undergraduates, use the Alice programming environment to populate a virtual world with 3D models of objects (e.g., people, animals, vehicles, and more).

Formal assessment of this approach has been performed in several college and university environments. In published results, Alice is reported to be a successful intervention technique for students who have less mathematics preparation and/or programming experience. When these students used Alice first, their average grade was a 3.0 GPA in CS1 – comparable to the grades of their peers with greater mathematics backgrounds and prior programming experience. Without Alice, these “at-risk” students earned an average 1.2 GPA in CS1.

Implementing the approach is supported by an extensive collection of curriculum and instructional materials. Sample course calendars, presentation notes, labs, projects, and test banks are included. An online community and Alice newsletter provide quick and easy access to online assistance.

TWO MAJOR LEARNING OUTCOMES FROM LEARNING TO PROGRAM WITH ALICE

1. Fundamental Concepts of Programming

Alice allows students to immediately visualize how their animation programs run, fostering understanding of the relationship between the programming statements and constructs and the behavior of their animations. Students learn the basics of computing by manipulating objects that are actors and scenes in a virtual world of their own creation.

2. Problem Solving and Logical Thinking

The traditional steps of problem-solving are applied through storytelling or task performance. Students use animation storyboards as design tools, creating a sequence of steps (in pseudocode) that they eventually implement, test, and revise. Students learn if-else and Boolean logic by creating interactive animations and simple games.

 


References

  • Alice software: http://www.alice.org
  • Curriculum and instructional materials, workshops: http://www.aliceprogramming.net
  • Moskal, B., Cooper, S. & Lurie, D. (2004, March). Evaluating the Effectiveness of a New Instructional Approach. Paper presented at the meeting of SIGCSE 2004, Norfolk, VA.
  • The Alice Team: Randy Pausch (developer), Wanda Dann, Stephen Cooper, and Don Slater
  • Case Study Contributor: Wanda Dann, wpdann@ithaca.edu

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Authors: Lecia Barker and J. McGrath Cohoon