We survey the literature about the teaching and learning of recursive programming. After a short history of the advent of recursion in programming languages and its adoption by programmers, we present curricular approaches to recursion, including a review of textbooks and some programming methodology, as well as the functional and imperative paradigms and the distinction between control flow vs. data flow. We follow the researchers in stating the problem with base cases, noting the similarity with induction in mathematics, making concrete analogies for recursion, using games, visualizations, animations, multimedia environments, intelligent tutoring systems and visual programming. We cover the usage in schools of the Logo programming language and the associated theoretical didactics, including a brief overview of the constructivist and constructionist theories of learning; we also sketch the learners' mental models which have been identified so far, and non-classical remedial strategies, such as kinesthesis and syntonicity. We append an extensive and carefully collated bibliography, which we hope will facilitate new research.
A reversible sequence of steps from the specification of the algorithm and the mathematical definition of the recurrent solution through the recursive procedure, the tail recursive procedure and finally to the iteration procedure, is shown. The notation for analysing recursive function execution as well as modified flow charts of an algorithm to identify the differences between the iteration and the tail recursion are proposed. All the procedures are written in Logo, so the lists are used as the data structure. Transformation from the recursive procedure to the iterative procedure and vice versa can be shown in such a way in every language in which the recursion is allowed. All examples are one-recursion-call examples and all except one are the functions of discrete mathematics.