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Modeling Applied to Problem Solving Documents

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Modeling Applied to Problem Solving 

written by Andrew Pawl, Analia Barrantes, and David E. Pritchard

We describe a modeling approach to help students learn expert problem solving. Models are used to present and hierarchically organize the syllabus content and apply it to problem solving, but students do not develop and validate their own Models through guided discovery. Instead, students classify problems under the appropriate instructor-generated Model by selecting a system to consider and describing the interactions that are relevant to that system. We believe that this explicit System, Interactions and Model (S.I.M.) problem modeling strategy represents a key simplification and clarification of the widely disseminated modeling approach originated by Hestenes and collaborators. Our narrower focus allows modeling physics to be integrated into (as opposed to replacing) a typical introductory college mechanics course, while preserving the emphasis on understanding systems and interactions that is the essence of modeling. We have employed the approach in a three-week review course for MIT freshmen who received a D in the fall mechanics course with very encouraging results.

Published November 11, 2009
Last Modified March 11, 2010

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