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Introducing students to recursion: a multi-facet and multi-tool approach. (English)
Gülbahar, Yasemin (ed.) et al., Informatics in schools. Teaching and learning perspectives. 7th international conference on informatics in schools: situation, evolution, and perspectives, ISSEP 2014, Istanbul, Turkey, September 22‒25, 2014. Proceedings. Berlin: Springer (ISBN 978-3-319-09957-6/pbk). Lecture Notes in Computer Science 8730, 124-137 (2014).
Summary: In this paper we discuss a number of results and advices coming from our observations and didactical experience gathered when teaching about recursion in different contexts and on various education level (K‒12 and tertiary). Knowing the difficulty in introducing, explaining and using recursion, we differentiate our approach, tools, and methods. Recursion can be introduced as a ‘real-life topic’ ‒ see Section 2, and then software for visualization of recursive computations (Section 3) can be very helpful to overcome some difficulties by novices. Section 4 is on developing recursive thinking ‒ we use two popular topics ‒ generating Fibonacci number and printing digits of a number ‒ to explain how to introduce students to different aspects of recursion. Section 5 is addressed to complexity of recursive computations ‒ we discuss how to use recursion in a most effective way. We do not teach recursion as a separate topic or subject, it is rather a method and a tool, the way of thinking, used in various situations. It is redundant in some cases (Section 5.1), can be used as an approach alternative to iteration (Sections 2 and 4.2), but our main focus is on its properties as a concept which has a computational power in designing solutions of problems and running such solutions on a computer.
Classification: P20 P50
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