home - login - register

PERC 2016 Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Abstract Title: Contextualizing problem-solving strategies in physics-intensive PhD research
Abstract: Problem-solving strategies physics undergraduates learn should prepare them for real-world contexts as they transition from novices to experts. Yet, graduate students in physics-intensive research face problems that go beyond "problem sets" they experienced as undergraduates and are solved by different strategies than are typically learned in undergraduate coursework. We conducted semi-structured interviews with ten graduate students to determine problem-solving strategies they found useful in their research. We coded these interviews using emergent and grounded theory approaches. Our findings explore problem-solving strategies (e.g., planning ahead, breaking down problems, evaluating options), contexts (e.g., designing software and troubleshooting equipment), and characteristics of successful problem-solvers (e.g., initiative, persistence, and motivation). Graduate students also relied on representations such as test cases, approximations, and simulations in their problem-solving process. Understanding problem-solving strategies, contexts, and characteristics has implications for how we approach problem-solving in undergraduate physics and physics education research.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Anne E. Leak
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY 14623
and Co-Presenter(s)
Jarrett Vosburg, Kelly Norris Martin, Javier Olivera, Benjamin M. Zwickl

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster