PPIG 2001 - 13th Annual Workshop
‘It’s just like the whole picture, but smaller’: Expressions of gradualism, selfsimilarity, and other pre-conceptions while classifying recursive phenomena
Dalit Levy, Tami Lapidot, Tamar Paz
Abstract: Recursion is a key concept, appearing in almost every introductory course in computer-science. Educators and researchers often refer to difficulties in learning and teaching recursion. However, the research literature barely addresses the unique ways in which students relate to this interdisciplinary concept and the particular learners’ language concerning recursive phenomena. The gap is most apparent when seen through a constructivist lens, where the students’ prior knowledge and idiosyncratic conceptions are referred to and reflected upon in order to serve as a basis for further knowledge construction. In our study, high school students collaboratively classified several recursive phenomena and discussed their criteria and categories with each other. This paper focuses on a part of the study that deals with a variety of pre-conceptions which emerged from analysing the students’ discourse, and suggests a model for organizing these pre-conceptions. Our findings could contribute to the recognition of the role of class discourse in the process of constructing the concept of recursion in particular, and in learning abstract computer science concepts in general.