Title: Using spreadsheet calculations to demonstrate concepts of programming

Authors: Gabriela Lovaszova, Jozef Hvorecky

Addresses: Univerzita Konstantina Filozofa, Nitra 949 74, Slovakia. ' Vysoka skola manazmentu, Bratislava 851 04, Slovakia

Abstract: |Experiment|, |discovery| and |self-teaching| are basic bricks of active learning. Despite the fact that learners are investigating notions and relationships known long before, their own discovery of something new and unknown for them results in their fascination with an irreplaceable educational value. Spreadsheets are one of the environments that can successfully be used for building stages in similar experimentation. Today, computer literacy courses (i.e. file management, word processing and spreadsheet calculations) frequently precede programming courses. They give us an opportunity to introduce programming concepts using the students| computer-related erudition – by solving problems that they can solve by other means. Spreadsheets have a special value in this sense. Their calculations can be seen as |program outputs of hidden programs|. By drawing the curtain away from the hidden processes, one can illustrate concepts and properties that are typical for all programs. Activities described in our paper show how spreadsheet-based calculations can lead students to a deeper comprehension of algorithms, their design, development and execution.

Keywords: spreadsheets; computing education; introductory programming notions; forming hypotheses; active learning; problem specification; text interpretation; unsolvable problems; Josephus problem; computer programming; algorithms; spreadsheet calculations.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2005.007708

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2005 Vol.15 No.3/4/5/6, pp.162 - 184

Published online: 03 Sep 2005 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article