A visualisation approach to learning the concept of recursion

Jihn Chang J. Jehng, S. H.S. Tung, C. T. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study investigated how a schematic-based visualisation approach implemented in an electronic learning environment facilitated the learning of the complex programming concept. The semantic-based visualisation approach applied Visualcode Rules and utilised various pictorial notations modeling the execution of recursive procedures. In this study, 38 college students studied the Scheme language and its recursive procedures in three different conditions. The three conditions were (a) the VisualScheme environment in which schematic-based pictorial notations (e.g. coloured icons and environment trees) were employed to help learners trace intermediate steps of executing procedures; (b) an Internet learning environment in which an ordered sequence of static pictorial notations provide a snap shot and illuminate execution of recursive procedures; (c) an Internet learning environment in which on-line source codes were annotated with detailed textual information. Results of the study indicated schematic-based pictorial notations helped students to form a better conceptual framework for learning the concept of recursion. It is suggested that the design of an electronic learning environment may appropriately apply meaningful pictorial information to help students learn complex programming concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Language learning
  • Mental models
  • Visualisation


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