ADTTool: Learning Data Structures as Visual Abstract Data Types

A. de Mendonça Engelbrecht and B. Mascia Daltrini (Brazil)


educational software, abstract data type, data structure, computer-aided learning, visual programming


The importance of applying abstract concepts in programming since first years of a Computer Engineering course, plus the contribution to learning provided by visual resources, has been a concern in teaching data structures. Teaching data structures is more than showing how to push information in a stack or how eliminate the first one of a queue. The goal is to aid students in acquiring good comprehension of data structures as abstract data types (ADT). This means to teach the student that is possible to create a function using stack operations, for example, without knowing where the information will be stored. The student does not need to know if a stack is stored in the array or in a linked list. He just needs to know how to use the push operation to resolve a problem that needs a stack to work. A useful tool was implemented to support this approach. It is a tool to test a function that contains abstract data types before the implementation phase. ADTTool (Abstract Data Type Tool) is an auxiliary educational software to aid students to acquire good comprehension of abstract data types. The goal is to teach a student to think differently and concentrate on the outside view while ignoring implementation details.

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