ERIC Number: EJ1056923
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Thinking in Terms of Sensors: Personification of Self as an Object in Physics Problem Solving
Tabor-Morris, A. E.
Physics Education, v50 n2 p203-209 Mar 2015
How can physics teachers help students develop consistent problem solving techniques for both simple and complicated physics problems, such as those that encompass objects undergoing multiple forces (mechanical or electrical) as individually portrayed in free-body diagrams and/or phenomenon involving multiple objects, such as Doppler effect reflection applications in echoes and ultrasonic cardiac monitoring for sound, or police radar for light? These problems can confuse novice physics students, and to sort out problem parts, the suggestion is made here to guide the student to personify self as the object in question, that is, to imagine oneself as the object undergoing outside influences such as forces and then qualify and quantify those for the problem at hand. This personification does NOT, as according to the three traditional definitions of the term (animism, anthropomorphism and teleology), empower the object to act, but instead just to detect its environment. By having students use their imagination to put themselves in the place of the object, they can "sense" the influences the object is experiencing to analyze these individually, hopefully reducing the student's feeling of being overwhelmed with information, and also imbuing the student with a sense of having experienced the situation. This can be especially useful in problems that involve both multiple forces AND multiple objects (for example, Atwood's machine), since objects acted upon need to be considered separately and consecutively, with the idea that one cannot be two objects at once. This personification technique, documented to have been used by both Einstein and Feynman, is recommended here for secondary-school teen and university-level adult learners with discussions on specific physics and astronomy classroom strategies.
Descriptors: Science Instruction, Scientific Concepts, Problem Solving, Mechanics (Physics), Imagination, Teaching Methods, Physics, Secondary School Science, College Science, Concept Formation, Astronomy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
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