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Students Learning Problem Solving in Introductory Physics



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Students Learning Problem Solving in Introductory Physics Forming an Initial Hypothesis of Instructors Beliefs Charles Henderson Kenneth Heller Patricia Heller Vince H Kuo Edit Yerushalmi Western Michigan University Kalamazoo MI Physics Education Research Group University of Minnesota Minneapolis MN Weizmann Institute Rehovot Israel Based on an analysis of structured interviews with 6 research university physics faculty members this paper presents our initial hypothesis of instructors beliefs about how their students learn to solve problems in an introductory physics course The hypothesis shows that these instructors have very general beliefs about the process of student learning that do not include many details about actual learning mechanisms Introduction Many students leave traditional introductory physics courses unable to solve standard test problems Those that can often do so without an understanding of the physics concepts on which these problems are based 1 Curriculum developers have focused their efforts on two general ways of improving this situation Some emphasize directly building students conceptual knowledge 2 3 while others emphasize developing students problem solving skills 4 6 Although aspects of many of these curricula are reflected in some instructors practices seldom are the curricula fully adopted This lack of full adoption likely reflects a mismatch between the curricula and the beliefs and values of the instructors who must implement the curricula In order to begin to understand the beliefs and values of these instructors we conducted interviews with 6 physics faculty members from a large research university The purpose of this study was to develop analysis techniques and generate testable hypotheses of physics instructors beliefs and values about the teaching and learning of problem solving in introductory calculus based physics The initial hypotheses resulting from this study will guide further investigations using larger samples This is



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