Developing a Comic-Creation Assignment and Rubric for Teaching and Assessing Algorithmic Concepts

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science; Department of Engineering Fundamentals; Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


Comics as a pedagogical tool have shown promise in conveying ideas and increasing retention in STEM disciplines. Within the context of introductory programming courses, the visual, real-world analogies to programming problems that comics offer may allow engineering students to better grasp abstract algorithmic concepts that can be obscured by low-level programming language details. Creating comics also provides an opportunity for students to exercise metacognition, as they are asked to reflect on what they know and how to express it in a new way. Further work is needed, however, to develop comic assignments with rigorous rubric-based assessment. Our work in progress focuses on an intervention where students develop their own algorithmic comics and share them with peers. The design of the assignment and assessment rubric leverages prior work on using context-bounded analogy to teach programming concepts. Students will create a comic illustrating an algorithmic concept and then use it as a medium for further communication, responding to peer feedback in order to further refine their understanding. These communications, we hypothesize, will increase correctness of representations and scenarios in the comics through refinement and likewise, in their understanding of programming concepts. The rubric associated with the assignment will serve as a model for assessment of relevant criteria within comic-based student activities.

Publication Title

2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)