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Abstract Title: Implicit and unchecked assumptions interfere with problem-solving in physics
Abstract: Many researchers have studied aspects of problem-solving. Recent work has characterized problem-solving in terms of the decisions made by and practices of an expert scientist as they solve authentic problems in their field. One crucial decision involves the assumptions  that are made in the process of defining and solving an authentic problem. While making assumptions is required for simplifying authentic problems, students are provided with little opportunity to practice making simplifying assumptions and check those assumptions. Results from two studies show that one of the students' shortcomings is making erroneous assumptions and failing to effectively reflect upon accuracy of their assumptions. Indeed, unchecked assumptions can interfere with problem-solvers' ability to solve different types of physics problems despite the use of other effective practices.  The results suggest that, for effective problem-solving, we should give students more training in making simplifying assumptions and reflecting upon them as they are solving problems.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: 1.L4

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Shima Salehi
Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: 8604061416
and Co-Presenter(s)
Eric Burkholder, Department of Physics, Stanford University