Empirical Evaluation of Usability of Animations in a Functional Programming Environment
Algorithm animations have been used for teaching computer programming since the birth of the field in the late seventies. One of the most notable obstacles to their adoption is the considerable effort that the production of program animations represents for the instructor. To foster the use of animations among students, we have extended the integrated programming environment (IDE) WinHIPE with visualization and animation capabilities . The environment has been used for teaching functional programming at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in the last two years. In the academic year 2001/2002, an experiment was made  to compare two versions of the same IDE: TurboHIPE (a textual IDE) and WinHIPE 1.0 (a graphical IDE). Results showed that students who used WinHIPE were enthusiastic with animations but they did not learn more than those who used TurboHIPE. We have conducted an experiment to obtain empirical evidence about whether WinHIPE 2.0 allows building animations easily and with minimal workload. We have also analyzed whether animations are easy to use and whether they are perceived by the students as an aid for other tasks. We describe in this report the experiment in detail, as well as its results.