Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: TA Problems

Bob LaMontagne wrote:

I think the answer here is that one shouldn't teach physics as a means
of teaching students how to 'solve problems'. It should be about the
physics. I teach a section of general physics for bio majors. The
homework, and the exams, are roughly 60% conceptual in nature. Only 40%
of what I emphasize is problem solving. Anyone can plug and chug. It's
very difficult to give a short essay type explanation of why a system
responds the way it does. My bio people have never complained about this

What I've said above may not be generally applicable. Getting into our
bio program is very competitive and I get very good students in the bio
section of the physics course (We have 3 bio/chem sections and one
physics/engineering section.)

Bob at PC

Gary Turner wrote:

Does anyone have any experience of why the MCAT has physics on there at
all? It does not seem likely that our future doctors will need to know
about blocks sliding down ramps! I had convinced myself that it was about
problem-solving skills, but the MCAT questions are all plug-and-chug rote
memorization. The students who just want to get enough out of the course
to pass the MCAT get really upset when I sacrifice content for skills
because "it is not helping me get into med school".

I think I understand what was meant by "solving problems" in this post.
However, if we can suceed in teaching students to develop skills in
general problem solving as a part of a physics course I believe we have
done a very good thing. I find many students do not have a clue how to
begin to analyze a non "plug & chug" type problem. I have been told by
several students that the skills they developed in their phsyics class
were very helpful to them in other technical courses they took later on.
James Mackey