The Importance of Dry Running Programs

Dry run techniques where you step through a program listing away from a computer are very powerful pedagogically as a way to teach programming as well as other computational topics (eg Turing Machines, algorithms, etc).

Two main approaches are

  • role play the execution of aspects of a program
  • draw dry run tables, showing the changing values of tables with a row for each line executed by the program

Role play is good as a way to give initial understanding of new programming concepts. Dry Running short program fragments then reinforces learning and acts as a diagnostic test to help students over barrier concepts.

Slides from the CAS London 2020 Conference

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