A study whether animations can help algorithms students understand computational complexity

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This paper seeks to discover if using animations to explain computational complexity to Algorithms students is better than using only handouts. As researchers in the field have shown, theoretical topics such as computational complexity are often difficult for students to understand especially because these students find the math and reductions too abstract to understand. In this paper, the author developed a visualisation system with key animations to improve students understanding. Students taking an Algorithms course were the participants of the study. They were equally divided into a control group and experimental group. The study took place in this order: all students took a class on computational complexity, then a pre-test, the control group used handouts while the experimental group used the animation system to learn computational complexity, finally everyone took a post-test. After running the Mann Whitney test, the results showed that there was no significant difference between the scores of the control group and experimental group. Hence, both the handouts and animation provide a similar level of understanding.
Undergraduate thesis submitted to the Department of Computer Science, Ashesi University, in partial fulfillment of Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, April 2019
animation, teaching methodology, algorithms and complexity, knowledge area, computational complexity, Ashesi University