Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ A Narrative Approach to Foster the Construction of Recursive Thinking in High School Students

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I personally cannot imagine using narrative and short stories to explain recursive thinking to high school students (or anyone, for that matter). Even in the study described here, the authors resorted to using an image (of a fractal) to illustrate what they mean. The best use of recursion in a story I can think of is Abbott and Costello's Who's on First? but of course students will struggle to see the practical aspect of it. My main use of recursion is to parse structured documents containing (say) lists of lists. Something like this: for a list, we call a function called parse_list() in which we cycle through each item, such that, if it's a string, we print it out, and if it's a list, we call the function parse_list() to process it. Do we make something like this simpler or more intuitive by turning it into a story? I don't think so, and the sense I get from this paper is that the students didn't find it so either.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: May 21, 2024 09:12 a.m.

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