Jennifer Docktor

Jennifer Docktor


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Department of Physics

Monday, November 8, 2010

4:00 p.m.

Cardwell 102

Conceptual Problem-Solving in Physics


Problem-solving is an important component of teaching and learning physics. Unfortunately, most 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 ignores the central role of concepts and principles in guiding the problem-solving process. In this talk I will first describe an instructional intervention that encourages students to consider physics principles when deciding on a solution strategy and helps them to synthesize major theorems and conservation laws learned in a mechanics course; then I will describe a series of studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.