Mental models of recursion revisited

I. Sanders, V. Galpin and T. Götschi

Proceedings of the 11th annual SIGCSE conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Bologna, Italy, 26-28 June 2006. 138-142.

Students struggle to understand recursion and we need to find good ways to teach the concept. We believe that an understanding of the mental models of recursion that students develop will assist us in teaching them more effectively. In 2003 we reported on a study of the mental models our students developed. This paper discusses some changes that we made to our teaching in 2003 after that study. An analysis of the students' mental models in 2003, 2004 and 2005 shows that more students are developing the copies model of recursion which is always a viable model.

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