The dimensions of variation in the teaching of data structures

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 9th Annual SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, 2004, pp. 92 - 96
Issue Date:
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The current debate about the teaching of data structures is hampered because, as a community, we usually debate specifics about data structure implementations and libraries, when the real level of disagreement remains implicit - the intent behind our teaching. This paper presents a phenomenographic study of the intent of CS educators for teaching data structures in CS2. Based on interviews with Computer Science educators and analysis of CS literature, we identified five categories of intent: developing transferable thinking, improving students' programming skills, knowing "what's under the hood", knowledge of software libraries, and component thinking. The CS community needs to first debate at the level of these categories before moving to more specific issues. This study also serves as an example of how phenomenographic analysis can be used to inform debate on syllabus design in general.
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