Problem solving in the sciences The Problem Solving process consists of a sequence of sections that fit together depending on the type of problem to be solved. These are: • Problem Definition. • Problem Analysis. • Generating possible Solutions. • Analyzing the Solutions. • Selecting the best Solution(s). • Planning the next course of action (Next Steps) • The process is only a guide for problem solving. It is useful to have a structure to follow to make sure that nothing is overlooked. Nothing here is likely to be brand new to anyone, but it is the pure acknowledgement and reminding of the process that can help the problems to be solved. http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html OOPS, looks like science to me, but this is a general definition
From Wikipedia Problem solving forms part of thinking. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as a higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills (Goldstein & Levin, 1987). It occurs if an organism or an artificial intelligencesystem does not know how to proceed from a given state to a desired goal state. It is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping.
From AP Teacher Standards AP Recommendation: AP teachers should promote the use of various instructional strategies that encourage students to develop critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. Teachers should use diverse college-level teaching and assessment strategies and college-level materials. These strategies should include an appropriate mix of technologies and media. Teachers should be knowledgeable in matching the various teaching methods to the specific dynamics of the discipline area and the classroom. Additionally, AP teachers should emphasize the inclusion of an increasingly diverse population of students in the AP program. The AP program and its focus on academic rigor should benefit all students.
The IEA Study of Science Changes in Science Education and Achievement: 1970 to 1984Edited by JOHN P KEEVES, University of Stockholm, Sweden With the rapid expansion of scientific knowledge that has occurred during the past 100 years, and with the probability of even more rapid growth, it has become increasingly necessary for students to learn to sort and sift information and to check ideas against evidence obtained from the real world. Thus there are growing demands for the development of the skills of processing information and problem solving. The methods and procedures of science offer one of the most powerful strategies for solving problems. Students need to be taught these essential skills. Largely through an emphasis on investigation and inquiry in the teaching and learning of science these skills can be developed in school-aged students. Thus work in the school science laboratory enables students not only to observe and comprehend the physical world around them, but also to test systematically ideas, hypotheses and models against the real world. All citizens according to their abilities should possess both knowledge and such skills that would enable them to act in an enlightened way for the benefit of a democratic society.
AP Physics Broad Instructional Goals PRIMARY PHYSICAL LAWS STANDARD MODELS MATHEMATICS 3. Student attributes – fostering of important student attributes, including appreciation of the physical world and the discipline of physics, curiosity, creativity, and reasoned skepticism. 4. Connections – understanding connections of physics to other disciplines and to societal issues. APPLY THE PRIMARY PHYSICAL LAWS AND THE STANDARD MODELS TO SOLVE COMPLEX PROBLEMS "Broad Instructional Goals: The first three of these goals are appropriate for the AP and introductory-level college physics courses which should, in addition, provide a background for the attainment of the fourth goal." 1. Physics knowledge – basic knowledge of the discipline of physics, including phenomenology, theories and techniques, and generalizing principles. 2. Problem solving – ability to ask physical questions and to obtain solutionS to physical questions by use of qualitative and quantitative reasoning and by experimental investigation. "Physics Course Description" College Board, 2001
Obviously not just rote textbook problems • Real problem solving in science involves problems where the students have to determine what they can tell about the problem that would allow them to answer the question, and what science concepts apply to the situation. • Many times the emphasis in physics is on numerical problem solving. It is a very useful tool but has to be applied correctly. The big trap is that the actual physical problem is often not even discovered. Students just look for formulas that they can use in the given situation without understanding the concepts. The highly simplified, ‘sterile’ physics problems are boring and they kill creativity. They make you forget global thinking and are not more than a mathematical exercise.
Obviously not just rote textbook problems Intro to my class: As you may have noticed, this physics class is going to be slightly different than you are used to. Problem solving is an important part of physics, but research shows that memorizing formulas and learning to recognize the variables to plug into them doesn't lead to a long-term ability to solve problems. This is something you could figure out, it is pretty common sense. Our goal for this class is to provide you with some ideas about why the subjects we will cover are interesting, how they relate to YOUR life. As a byproduct, you may find out why the formulas work and gain a skill in solving the problems that will stay with you and help you in your future work. Where we started: Implementing Interactive Laboratory-Based Learning Techniques in Second-Semester Introductory Physics, DUE May/95-Sep/00 Research shows that students use formula-centered problem-solving strategies that differ from those used by experienced scientists, and that the knowledge students gain in introductory physics is a randomly organized set of facts and equations, with little conceptual understanding and many misconceptions. Many approaches have been developed to overcome these problems, and have met with reasonable success in small institutions, or for a particular professor. These approaches are often too expensive or complicated to transfer to large comprehensive universities. Also, graduate students, the future instructors of science, are in general inadequately trained as educators. A teaching system designed to overcome these problems in a method that could be standardized and made available to larger engineering schools, as well as being appropriate for smaller institutions, will be developed. The method involves leading the student from concrete "hands-on" examples to conceptual understanding through group discussion, in the idea first, name afterward fashion. Quantitative experimental results provide verification. Concepts are related to everyday phenomena familiar to the student. Students are taught how to think about physics problems. Cooperative learning, found to improve retention of female and minority students, is emphasized. Advanced students are brought into the teaching process as apprentices, with materials to acquaint them with the teaching strategies to be employed.
A research topic to improve education • "TOPP: Taxonomy of Physics Problems, Improving Student Understanding in Introductory Physics“ May/06-Apr/09 The art of problem solving requires a person first to identify a problem, classify it, then attack it with an variety of concepts. Unfortunately introductory science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses contain vast amounts of material, and instructors of these courses often leave out the lesser details to promote course coverage. Students then tend to cluster knowledge into many small segments that must be integrated in an effort to solve a problem. Substantial instruction on the integration process is seldom addressed, leaving students without the ability to advance from novice to expert problem solving and thus effectively perform the task at hand, reducing a student's capability and diminishing confidence. • Broader Impact: The catalogue provides instructors with a tool to pinpoint what students know, how well they integrate what they know, and where education efforts have gone awry. This process is expected to result in a more scientifically literate population. • Intellectual Merit: The catalogue is also being used to build software and a problem base containing problems that represent each step and the combinations of steps at the complexity level appropriate for undergraduates. The development of the software and procedures allows extension of the technology to many more areas of study. An instructor can develop customized concept inventories based on a detailed description of steps the instructor feels the students should be able to do and the maximum complexity of a combination of steps. The software provides analysis of the results of the evaluations and provides an instructor with detailed reports on the competency of the student on each covered step, the degree to which the students integrate the knowledge required to address the steps, the degree to which they respond correctly to novel but related situations, and their ability to deal with higher levels of complexity. Participating instructors can upload the results to the project, where they can be used to refine the model and to understand better physics education in general.
Research on problem solving has been going on for a while: • Larkin, J.H. , McDermott, J., Simon, D.P. and H.A. Simon, "Expert and Novice Performance in Solving Physics Problems," Science 208:1335-1342 (1990). • Larkin, J.H., "Processing Information for Effective Problem Solving," Eng. Educ. • December:285-288 (1979). • Larkin, J.H., McDermott, J., Simon, D.P., and H.A. Simon, "Models of Competence in Solving Physics Problems," Cog. Sci. 4:317_345 (1980). • Larkin, J.H. and F. Reif, "Understanding and Teaching Problem Solving in Physics," Eur. J.Sci. Educ. 1: 191-203 (1979). • Reif, F.R. and J.I. Heller, “Knowledge Structure and Problem Solving in Physics,” Educ.Psych. 17:102-127 (1982),
3. Beliefs about science and problem solving (measured)* Expert Novice Content: isolated pieces of information to be memorized. Handed down by an authority. Unrelated to world. Problem solving: pattern matching to memorized arcane recipes. Content: coherent structure of concepts. Describes nature, established by experiment. Prob. Solving: Systematic concept-based strategies. Widely applicable. nearly all physics courses more novice ref. Redish et al, CU work--Adams, Perkins, MD, NF, SP, CW *adapted from D. Hammer