The Suitable Way is Backwards, but They Work Forward
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Ginat, D. (2005). The Suitable Way is Backwards, but They Work Forward. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 24(1), 73-88. Norfolk, VA: AACE.
Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/6564.
Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Volume 24, Issue 1, January 2005
Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) Norfolk, VA
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Sometimes, if you do not begin at the end, you end at the beginning. This problem-solving phenomenon, in the realm of computer science (CS), is the subject of this paper. Beginning at the end yields a "working backwards" approach, opposite to that of "working forwards." One might expect 3rd year CS students to be aware of and effectively utilize both approaches. In particular, one might expect that students would work recursively backwards when it is the suitable way for solving a given algorithmic problem. The study in this paper reveals that this is not quite the case. The study shows that a large number of students work solely forwards and obtain erroneous or inefficient results, without considering any redirection of their train of thought. These students' working patterns are characterized and discussed. Suggestions for enabling their awareness and changing the direction of their reasoning are shown and advocated.
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