Applying abstraction to master complexity: The comparison of abstraction ability in computer science majors with students in other disciplines

Jonathan H Hill, Pace University

Abstract

Aptitude for managing abstraction may be a distinguishing characteristic of computer science majors. If this is so, and if this aptitude can be recognized among potential majors, those who are well suited for computer science but have not considered it as a major can be made aware of the possibility. Abstraction, as a human ability, is comprised of two complementary aspects: clearing away details to build simplifications and deriving generalizations that illuminate essentials. Agreement exists that this ability may be nurtured through instruction and experience, but that it rests upon a natural aptitude that is possessed by few. Agreement exists that this natural aptitude is assessable, although no instrument yet exists for measuring it efficiently among prospective computer science majors who have not begun computer science coursework. Nor has one existed to test abstraction skills among a general population if undergraduate students. This dissertation is focused on a study done at New York's Pace University to test undergraduate students across a range of majors for abstraction ability. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Sciences|Computer Science

Recommended Citation

Jonathan H Hill, "Applying abstraction to master complexity: The comparison of abstraction ability in computer science majors with students in other disciplines" (January 1, 2007). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3430590.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3430590

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