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A Conceptual Approach to Physics Problem Solving Documents

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A Conceptual Approach to Physics Problem Solving 

written by Jennifer Docktor, Natalie Strand, Jose P. Mestre, and Brian H. Ross

Students in introductory physics courses treat problem solving as an exercise in manipulating equations, symbols, and quantities with the goal of obtaining the correct answer. Although this approach is efficient for getting answers, it is far from optimal for learning how conceptual knowledge is applied in the problem-solving process. The goal of this study is to refine and evaluate an approach that encourages students to begin by writing a strategic analysis of a problem based on principles and procedures, and then to follow with a documented problem solution that exhibits, side-by-side, how concepts and equations go together in a solution. We will discuss the implementation and effectiveness of this approach in four local high school classrooms.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified October 19, 2010

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