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In almost all introductory physics courses problem solving is a main part of the course (Hsu, Brewe, Foster, & Harper, 2004).
For missing information, they are required to make estimations and approximations (Henderson, 2002). They are called context-rich problems (Heller, Keith, & Anderson, 1992) or case study problems (Van Heavelen, 1991).On the other hand, students should know how to apply their physics knowledge and mathematics knowledge both qualitatively and quantitatively.Even physics majors need problem-solving abilities in addition to understanding concepts. According to Hayes (1989), “whenever there is a gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and you do not know how to find a way to cross the gap, you have a problem.” (p.xii).Experts know more and how to use the knowledge (Foster, 2000): The difference between experts and novices in physics is that experts know more physics.According to Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser (1981), novices used surface features of the problem to solve problems.In brief, modeling in physics is defined as “making a simplified, idealized physics model of a messy real-world situation by approximations” (Chabay & Sherwood, 1999).This is also called “physics modeling” in the physics education community.An expert’s process of solving a problem involves three steps (Reif & Heller, 1982). In contrast, novices do not tend to ask these kinds of questions during problem solving (Hendersen, 2002).The first one is the description stage which is a translation of the problem statement into a clear description of the problem. The second one is the search for a solution stage which uses generally applicable procedures. Novices are not likely to evaluate their answers (Maloney, 1994).This analysis done by experts is a qualitative description based on principles and not mathematical calculation (Larkin, 1979).So, the qualitative analysis is the problem solver’s interpretation of the problem.