Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Computer Science

Committee Chair

Scott Fleming

Committee Member

Amy Cook

Committee Member

Vinthuy Phan


This paper reports the results of an observational user study of a tutorial system for learning to comprehend Java programs. The study involved 9 undergraduate college students enrolled in introductory programming courses. For the study, we built a new system, Coding Companion, with a design generally representative of prior educational systems for learning program comprehension, but that incorporates several novel design decisions for addressing information overload and split-attention effect. Key ?ndings include the following. Participant feedback and usage data suggest that the system was generally helpful for learning and that the lesson interface was engaging and not overly confusing. All nine participants were strongly positive about quizzes provided by the system, and many found answer explanations helpful, even when they had answered the question correctly. Participant comments revealed a tension between information overload caused by long, complex program traces and the importance of completely explaining the traces, especially for beginners.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.