Teaching recursion in a procedural environment - How much should we emphasize the computing model?

David Ginat, Eyal Shifroni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

Recursion is a powerful and essential computational problem solving tool, but the concept of recursion is difficult to comprehend. Students that master the conventional programming construct of iteration in procedural programming environments, find it hard to utilize recursion. This study started as a test of CS College students' utilization of recursion. It was conducted after they have completed CSl, where they studied recursion with the C programming language. The test revealed that students adhere to the iterative pattern of "forward accumulation", due to their confidence with the iteration construct, but lack of trust of the recursion mechanism. These results motivated us to get more insight into the nature of recursion difficulties and ways to overcome them. In this paper we describe the difficulties we observed, and present a declarative, abstract, approach that contributed to overcome them. We question the emphasis that should be put on the basic computing model when presenting recursion, and argue for emphasis on the declarative approach for teaching recursion formulation in a procedural programming environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGCSE 1999 - Proceedings of the 13th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages127-131
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781581130850
StatePublished - 24 Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes
Event13th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 1999 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 24 Mar 199928 Mar 1999

Publication series

NameSIGCSE 1999 - Proceedings of the 13th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Conference

Conference13th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 1999
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Period24/03/9928/03/99

Keywords

  • Problem decomposition
  • Recursive formulation

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