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The paper tries to shed some light on the conceptual development of computer-science concepts by discussing recursion as an interdisciplinary idea and by analyzing the class discourse during an introductive learning activity. Throughout the inductive analysis of the discourse, the students’ expressions were interpreted, refined, and formulated as ‘preconceptions’. After a short theoretical and methodological background (in Secs. 2 and 3), we present these pre-conceptions, suggest an organizing model of conceptual change, and discuss certain implications concerning the issue of understanding recursion by high school students and of the collaborative development of such understanding.