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ERIC Number: EJ1080627
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-9120
Learning Aids for Students Taking Physics
Voroshilov, Valentin
Physics Education, v50 n6 p694-698 Nov 2015
If a person has "a problem" to solve and knows the solution and just has to apply it (retrieve it from memory and re-act), it is not a problem--it is a task; if a person does not know the solution and has to create it--this is a problem. Using this language, there are only two situations: (a) one has to perform a task; or (b) one has to solve a problem by creating a new (for the person) procedure, i.e. one has to create a brand new (for the one) solution; of course, one must utilize some of the knowledge previously stored in the memory (we could call this action "creative utilization of previous knowledge"). If a student learned how to perform a task, he or she can repeat it in the future as many times as this student has to repeat the same task. The key word is "the same". Our brain is a powerful pattern recognition machine. As soon as it recognizes the task, it retrieves from memory the sequence of the actions, which has to be performed to succeed. If a brain does not recognize the task, we have two options: (a) the task is the same but due to some features it is camouflaged as a different one; (b) the task is different from the ones in the past and is really new for the brain, and the brain does not have the solution (at least in full) in its storage. Of course, we assume that a particular brain is capable of storing and retrieving the information and governing the actions required for fulfilling the task (otherwise we have to discuss a case of learning disabilities). Based on this approach, every teacher has to teach students to two different practices: (a) how to perform specific tasks (the set of those tasks should be specified by a curriculum); (b) how to create a solution to a problem which has not been solved in the past (by that person); the latter practice, in turn, requires a practice in making a conclusion regarding the familiarity of the given assignment--is it the same as one from the past (is it a task?) or different (is it a problem?)? Development of such a skill also requires specific practice. Teaching how to "find" a solution means (in part) teaching how to recognize the old task in the new one and to apply the appropriate method (which worked in the past). Teaching how to create/invent a solution which has not been presented/trained before (at least in full) means teaching thinking creatively (a.c.a. critically). Although due to the definition of "creativity" the act of creating something new should be seen as the result of an insight, a teacher can help a student to get to that insight as close as possible using specific teaching tools (learning aids). Many teaching instruments of the kind have been discussed and offered by various research. For example, E. F. Redish (2004) offers a general framework for Physics Education Research based on modeling student thinking. "Teaching Introductory Physics" by Arnold B. Arons (1997) is an invaluable source of many teaching tools and techniques. Many specific teaching strategies, including examples of mapping and guided thinking one will find in the works of K. Heller and P. Heller (1995). A Elby (2001) provides a broad summary on helping students learn how to learn (including asking prompting questions). D. Rosengrant "et al" (2009) offer a study of the use of diagrams, including free-body diagrams, as a helping tool for solving problems in mechanics. D. Van Domelen provides a review of the use of strategy maps and thinking algorithms. An excellent recourse letter is provided by L. C. McDermont and E. F. Redish (1999). The use of concept maps in education has been discussed in details by J. D. Novak (1984). In these works a reader will find a description of several tools which the author finds also helpful for students learning how to solve physics problems. These tools help students to get a better understanding of how a mind of an expert problem solver works when solving a problem.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
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