How to make university students solve physics problems requiring mathematical skills: The "Adventurous Problem Solving" approach

Frits F.M. de Mul, Cristina Martin i Batlle, Imme de Bruijn, Kees Rinzema

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    12 Citations (Scopus)
    56 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Teaching physics to first-year university students (in the USA: junior/senior level) is often hampered by their lack of skills in the underlying mathematics, and that in turn may block their understanding of the physics and their ability to solve problems. Examples are vector algebra, differential expressions and multi-dimensional integrations, and the Gauss and Ampère laws learnt in electromagnetism courses. To enhance those skills in a quick and efficient way we have developed 'Integrating Mathematics in University Physics', in which students are provided with a selection of problems (exercises) that explicitly deal with the relation between physics and mathematics. The project is based on computer-assisted instruction (CAI), and available via the Internet (http://tnweb.tn.utwente.nl/onderwijs/; or http://www.utwente.nl/; search or click to: CONECT). Normally, in CAI a predefined student-guiding sequence for problem solving is used (systematic problem solving). For self-learning this approach was found to be far too rigid. Therefore, we developed the 'adventurous problem solving' (APS) method. In this new approach, the student has to find the solution by developing his own problem-solving strategy in an interactive way. The assessment of mathematical answers to physical questions is performed using a background link with an algebraic symbolic language interpreter. This manuscript concentrates on the subject of APS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-61
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean journal of physics
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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