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Revista mexicana de física E

Print version ISSN 1870-3542


ERCEG, N.; MARUSIC, M.  and  SLISKO, J.. Students' strategies for solving partially specified physics problems. Rev. mex. fís. E [online]. 2011, vol.57, n.1, pp.44-50. ISSN 1870-3542.

In this study we present a pilot-investigation of high-school and university students' abilities to solve partially specified physics problem and ways which they handle the task. Students are asked to answer the question whether the given problem situation is physically possible or not in real-life without an explicit advice on what to calculate and how to judge. We used a combination of individual interview and written test methods. According to the type of the problem-solving approach the respondents were divided into the five categories. We found the majority belong to categories with preferably quantitative approach regardless of curriculum, level of education or research method. Our results indicate that standard numerical exercises, usually used in teaching, do not develop sufficiently critical thinking and real-life problem-solving abilities. We think that students could be given also partially specified problems to help them in preparing for real-life problem-solving situations. To our knowledge, this study is the first one to explore students' reactions to this type of a problem and we are motivated to continue research.

Keywords : Student strategy; problem solving; partially specified gravity problem.

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