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Introducing Ill-Structured Problems in Introductory Physics Recitations Documents

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Introducing Ill-Structured Problems in Introductory Physics Recitations 

written by Vazgen Shekoyan and Eugenia Etkina

One important aspect of physics instruction is helping students develop better problem solving expertise. Besides enhancing the content knowledge, problems help students develop different cognitive abilities and skills. This paper focuses on ill-structured problems. These problems are different from traditional "end of chapter" well-structured problems. They do not have one right answer and thus the student has to examine different possibilities, assumptions and evaluate the outcomes. To solve such problems one has to engage in a cognitive monitoring called epistemic cognition. It is an important part of thinking in real life. Physicists routinely use epistemic cognition when they solve problems. We present a scaffolding technique for introducing ill-structured problems in introductory physics recitations and describe preliminary results of an exploratory study of student problem solving of ill-structured problems.

Published November 12, 2007
Last Modified December 1, 2010

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