'Explain in plain English' questions revisited : data structures problems

Corney, Malcolm W., Fitzgerald, Sue, Hanks, Brian, Lister, Raymond, McCauley, Renée, & Murphy, Laurie (2014) 'Explain in plain English' questions revisited : data structures problems. In SIGCSE '14 Proceedings of the 45th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, ACM, Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA, pp. 591-596.

View at publisher


Recent studies have linked the ability of novice (CS1) programmers to read and explain code with their ability to write code. This study extends earlier work by asking CS2 students to explain object-oriented data structures problems that involve recursion. Results show a strong correlation between ability to explain code at an abstract level and performance on code writing and code reading test problems for these object-oriented data structures problems. The authors postulate that there is a common set of skills concerned with reasoning about programs that explains the correlation between writing code and explaining code. The authors suggest that an overly exclusive emphasis on code writing may be detrimental to learning to program. Non-code writing learning activities (e.g., reading and explaining code) are likely to improve student ability to reason about code and, by extension, improve student ability to write code. A judicious mix of code-writing and code-reading activities is recommended.

Impact and interest:

9 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

78 since deposited on 19 Mar 2014
20 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 68093
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: qualitative research methods, data structures, SOLO taxonomy, mixed methods, HERN, new-Piaget, computer science education research, Explain in plain English, CS2
DOI: 10.1145/2538862.2538911
ISBN: 9781450326056
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > COMPUTER SOFTWARE (080300)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 ACM
Copyright Statement: This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in SIGCSE '14 Proceedings of the 45th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2538862.2538911
Deposited On: 19 Mar 2014 00:57
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2015 17:52

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page