In her 6/1/01 PhysLrnR post "Re: References regarding extraneous
information?" Melissa Dancy writes:
"I think we all assume that problems with more than the essential
information can help in the learning process. But has anyone every
shown this is a measurable way? Where is the research?"
I think most people will agree that one of the purposes of education
is to prepare students for productive and useful lives in the real
world (RW). As most RW'ers (and even some Academicians) can affirm,
the RW is full of important problems with (a) more or less than the
essential information, and (b) erroneous and misleading information,
(c) near zero information.
ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), AIP
(American Institute of Physics), NSF (National Science Foundation),
and the U.S. Labor Department all call for educating students to
solve RW problems (ABET 2000, Hake 2000, Van Heuvelen & Andre 1999).
In the 1930's, long before such recent calls, Benezet(1935) and
Fawcett(1938) demonstrated the benefits of emphasizing RW problems in
the lower grades. Unfortunately, the current education-research
communities (including physics) are almost totally ignorant of their
Does it really take more research to indicate that students should
receive practice in solving RW problems?
Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Richard Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
"Some problems are just too complicated for rational logical
solutions. They admit of insights, not answers."
REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES
ABET. 2001. See <http://www.abet.org>. ABET wants engineering school
graduates to be able to:
(a) Apply knowledge of math, science, engineering;
Benezet, L.P. 1935, 1936. "The Teaching of Arithmetic I, II, III: The
Story of an Experiment," Journal of the National Education Association
24(8), 241-244 (1935); 24(9), 301-303 (1935); 25(1), 7-8 (1936). The
articles were (a) reprinted in the Humanistic Mathematics Newsletter
#6: 2-14 (May 1991); (b) on the web along with other Benezetia at the
Benezet Centre <http://wol.ra.phy.cam.ac.uk/sanjoy/benezet/>. See
also Mahajan & Hake (2000).
Fawcett, H.P. 1938. "The Nature of Proof" (1938 Yearbook of the
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)", now available as H.P.
Fawcett, "The Thirteenth Yearbook: The Nature of Proof" (National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1995). For a discussion of
Fawcett's work see Schoenfeld (1991).
Hake R.R. 2000. "Is it Finally Time to Implement Curriculum S?" AAPT
Announcer 30(4), 103 (2000); on the web as ref. 13 at
<http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake> [CurriculumS.pdf., 3/15/01,
1200K] (400 references & footnotes, 390 hot-linked URL's). This paper
concerns improving the education of undergraduate physics majors by
instituting a "Curriculum S" for "Synthesis." But because that's a
small part of a much larger educational problem in the U.S. there's a
lot of material on the reform of P-16 education generally (P =
preschool). PAGE 23 SHOWS A PICTORIAL SUMMARY OF THE SKILLS NEEDED IN
THE PROFESSIONS AS INDICATED BY ABET, AIP, NSF, AND THE U.S. LABOR
DEPARTMENT, AS THEY WERE EXTRACTED FROM THE SOURCES BY VAN HEUVELEN
AND ANDRE (2000).
Mahajan, S. & R.R.Hake. 2000. "Is it finally time for a physics
counterpart of the Benezet/Berman math experiment of the 1930's?"
PERC 2000 "Physics Education Research Conference: Teacher Education";
online at <http://wol.ra.phy.cam.ac.uk/sanjoy/benezet/>.
Schoenfeld, A.H. 1991. "On Mathematics and Sense-Making: An Informal
Attack on the Unfortunate Divorce of Formal and Informal Mathematics"
in "Informal Reasoning and Education," ed. by J.F. Voss, D.N.
Perkins, and J.W. Segal (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991).
Van Heuvelen A. & K. Andre. 2000. "Calculus-Based Physics and the
Engineering ABET 2000 Criteria," in "Undergraduate Physics for the
New Century," Conference of Physics Chairs, 14-16 April 2000;