## Algorithm Simulation

This work has focused on the development of a computerized, algorithm simulation
tutor called Sketchmate that
allows students to complete exercises in which they simulate the steps
of various graph or tree algorithms. The principal innovations of
this tool include 1) having students perform algorithm simulations, as opposed
to passively watching an animation, 2) having students perform detailed,
fine-grained simulations where they have to make detailed updates to
the algorithms' data structures at each step, and 3) providing
immediate feedback and correction after each step, much
like having an instructor stand over the student's shoulder and providing assistance. The tool has been experimentally evaluated in a number of
data structure classes to measure both learning
outcomes, measured as the improvement in percentage accuracy between a pre-
and post-test, and learning rates, measured as the amount of material learned
in a fixed amount of time.
Sketchmate students have achieved a percentage accuracy that is two to
three letter grades
higher than paper-and-pencil students on practice exercises (statistically
sigificant) and roughly
one letter grade higher on the pre/post tests (not statistically significant).

## Students

## Publications

- Michael Orsega, Bradley T. Vander Zanden, and Christopher H. Skinner, Two experiments using learning rate to evaluate an experimenter developed tool for splay trees. In
*SIGCSE'11 Proceedings of the 42nd ACM technical symposium on Computer science education*, Dallas, TX (March 2011), pp 135-140.
- Michael Orsega, Bradley T. Vander Zanden, and Christopher H. Skinner,
Experiments with Algorithm Visualization Tool Development. In
*SIGCSE'12 ACM technical symposium on Computer Science Education*,
pp 559-564.