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How do I develop intuition to learn how to solve problems?

  1. Oct 5, 2013 #1
    I feel like I don't pick up on things as quickly as my peers. I really need to slowly conceptually picture every concept or else I don't understand what we're talking about---and during lectures there's really no time to stop and visualize formulae as we go step by step through derivations. When the profs ask check-your-understanding type questions aloud to the class, my answers are radically different from everyone else's (same thing on the homework: totally misunderstand what they're asking of me or completely lack in understanding of the question). Even if I understand what's going on in my lectures (and the theory in the textbooks), when I get to the homework and every problem is different I just draw a huge blank. When I go to office hours and the TA explains what's going on in the problem I can follow it (one of those "I know I'll know the answer once you tell me what it is" scenarios) but I haven't figured out how to solve things on my own so I pretty much have to have someone explain each problem to me...which is a huge problem in my upper division classes. If I have a learning disability, I don't really see what I can do about it except work harder and I have no intention of choosing an easier major; I just want to know if other people are doing something differently to develop their intuition for homework that I just haven't developed yet...? Ideally I would just keep doing similar problems repeatedly, but again all of my homework problems are radically different from one another....
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2013 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    Rule 1: learn the definitions really well- not just a general idea of what a term means. Often the precise words of a definition are used in solving problems.

    Rule 2: learn the formulas. Not just memorize them- learn what each symbol means and why the formula works.
     
  4. Oct 6, 2013 #3

    vanhees71

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    Yes! And

    Rule 3: Do a lot of problem solving yourself without glancing to early to the solution ;-).
     
  5. Oct 6, 2013 #4
    Addendum to Rule 3: For every problem first solve the problem, mathematically (solve the equations) and afterwards explain to your self what happened physically.

    For example first solve particle gyration by using the motion equation, and the explain it by explain it by considering the directions and magnitudes of the forces the particle feels at a few key positions.
     
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