Narrating data structures: The role of context in CS2

Svetlana Yarosh, Mark Guzdial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Learning computing with respect to the context of its use has been linked in previous reports to student motivation in introductory Computer Science (CS) courses. In this report, we consider the role of context in a second course. We present a case study of a CS2 data structures class that uses a media computation context. In this course, students learn data structures and object-oriented (OO) programming through a pervasive narrative about how real media professionals use data structures to model the real world and to construct the digital images, sounds, and animations with which the students are familiar in their daily lives. We found that context played a different role in a second course than in a first course. We found evidence that some students did not need context to appreciate computing, but we also found evidence that context can help students get engaged with the material that they otherwise do not find interesting. In particular, the narrative aspect of a context may help students in relating the elements of the course and may even help with learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalACM Journal on Educational Resources in Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • CS1/2
  • Course design
  • Media computation


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