Recursion is a programming paradigm as well as a problem solving strategy thought to be very challenging to grasp for university students. This article outlines a pilot study, which expands the age range of students exposed to the concept of recursion in computer science through instruction in a series of interesting and engaging activities. In this study, a small number of students (n = 9) aged 11 to 13 years, were presented with a new and unique recursion curriculum involving hands-on experiences over a seven-week period at the University of Victoria, Canada. The curriculum was comprised of a series of progressively challenging recursion activities—roughly based upon the ideas of ‘Computer Science Unplugged’ (Bell, Witten, & Fellows, 2009)—and included programming applications with MicroWorlds EX, a programming language based on LOGO. Through this engagement, an increased number of students recognized and understood the concepts covered. We hypothesize that through experiences for youth with activities such as those outlined here, the number of students who understand fundamental computer science applications and who might potentially pursue computer science in post-secondary education will increase. We hypothesis further that through an earlier encounter of “challenging” concepts the learning and understanding of those will become easier at the university level. In this paper, the curriculum, classroom experiences, preliminary, largely descriptive and qualitative results and next steps in the research are discussed.
Gunion, Katherine; Milford, Todd; and Stege, Ulrike
"The Paradigm Recursion: Is It More Accessible When Introduced in Middle School?,"
The Journal of Problem Solving: Vol. 2
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jps/vol2/iss2/8