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[Phys-L] Re: Goals of the Introductory Course

| >
| > And these are exactly the kinds of problems that tend to
| earn you low
| > marks in student opinion surveys
| Well, that depends.
| Mostly it depends on whether the students can _handle_
| the assessment problems. If they have been trained
| on a steady diet of chug-and-plug problems, then
| !pow! they get hit with an exam full of problems
| that play by different rules, then they really do
| have something to complain about.

Exactly, when I get them after 13-14 years of education, many have had a
14 year diet of plug-and-chug and many complain bitterly at seeing a
course with different rules.

| But remember this sub-thread started from the idea
| of working backwards from the exam. Construct an
| exam that assesses what you care about. Then
| your task is clear: teach them what they need to
| know to meet that goal. If the text doesn't teach
| them anything but plug-and-chugging, get a better
| text, and/or supplement it like crazy.

My comment regards an aspect which is really a problem of changing an
ingrained mental culture. Your right the task is clear, and often I may
be one of the first courses that is trying to change that style or mode
of thinking and there are complaints from a substantial fraction.

| I am not at all convinced that kids intrinsically prefer
| plug-and-chug problems and abhor conceptual thinking. Here's
| some rough evidence: Go to the neighborhood bookstore. I
| predict you will find a goodly number of _puzzle_ books (far
| outnumbering the physics books).

Who is buying these books at the neighborhood bookstore? My 19 year-old

|These puzzles commonly
| require out-of-the box thinking. I think most kids have an
| innate attraction to this. Indeed there is reason to suspect
| that the typical educational process stifles this. when it
| should be encouraging it.

And the comment is referring to the fact that I get them after 12-14
years of this! I hope that I don't contribute to the effect, but
sometimes and someways I probably do.

Joel R.
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