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Suggestion I don't think he got it

  1. Dec 26, 2011 #1
    I've often noticed threads where help is given on a problem then . . . silence. He didn't get it. That's what I think or maybe he got it elsewhere. Often though I believe they're too embarrassed to say, "ugh, I really still don't get it. Can you help me some more?" But I've read the rules: no help til you show your work and never work it for them. Hard, rather humilitating, to show your embarrassingly-defficient work when you barely know what's going on and maybe if you did work it for them, they'd learn how to do it and so could do others themselves. But too bad though right? I know, your forum, your rules. I have to accept them. Still though I'm left what, a little unfulfilled when I see what I think is happening.

    We have a math crisis in America and the phenomenon is very non-linear: Make the smallest, most subtle of changes (help them more), and maybe something catastrophic (wonderful) might happen. Discovery sometimes comes in the strangest, most unexpected of places.

    So I suggest we relax that rule in 2012.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2011 #2
    Are you saying we shouldn't require users to contribute work anymore? After all, if an OP really does not get it, even after 1 or 2 hints, I often see our awesome homework helper give even clearer hints. Why try to fix something that works so smoothly? I see no point in your post.
  4. Dec 26, 2011 #3
    If you've failed to teach the student, how can you possibly say it's going smoothly? Not for the student anyway.
  5. Dec 26, 2011 #4
    I don't think the forums are a direct substitute for teaching as much as they are for helping. You should still be going to class. From my experience reading the homework section, I feel like a lot of people get excellent hints and as a result tend to "get" it most of the time. I personally don't see a use for relaxing this rule, as it will only reinforce negative behaviors ("I don't know, tell me how to do it..."Show me the solution").
  6. Dec 26, 2011 #5


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    I completely disagree. I think that DivisionByZro has it right and it would seem that you are suggesting just GIVING them the answers rather than trying to help them learn.
  7. Dec 26, 2011 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    And it would help the students so much more to provide a place where they didn't have to work - just copy the answers someone else worked out. Yes, that will help teach them.
  8. Dec 26, 2011 #7
    I agree. It's the other ones I'm talking about.

    I know I'm right with this: giving more help would help the state of math in America. I will of course, however, abide by the rules in here.
  9. Dec 26, 2011 #8
    Little extreme Van. I'm not suggesting we pre-chew their food. Just lead them on in the right direction, some more so than others.

    Wait, now that I think about it, yes, in some cases I suggest pre-chew but not a habit of it.
  10. Dec 26, 2011 #9
    With your suggestion, this site would turn more into a yahooforums.com than a physicsforums. Indeed, go to Yahoo, and just see how many people put no effort and get answers (mostly wrong ones). This website has a very good reputation, why jeopardize that? Many of my professors like physicsforums as they know you can't get straight answers for nothing (i.e. no work put into it). I think the system currently in place is perfect. People who *really* don't get it are often people who haven't done the work, or haven't read over their notes, haven't gone to class, etc...
  11. Dec 26, 2011 #10


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    In many cases, making the student show what they have tried lets helpers know where the student is going wrong, therefor enabling the helper to zero in on where the student needs help as opposed to making wild guesses or playing 20 questions.

    I understand your concern, but I think a lot of times, a student that gives up doesn't want help or want to learn, they just want to be handed the answers.
  12. Dec 26, 2011 #11


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    Which, to anyone who has any experience with students, is 95% of all students out there.

    To add to this, anyone who has ever done any tutoring will tell you that students get a lot more out of their tutoring if you force them to try the problem on their own beforehand, even if they fail miserably. Whenever you try to guide a student to an answer, you're not allowing them to realize why one way of thinking about a problem works and maybe theirs doesn't.

    In fact, this is a bigger cause of a poor scientific understanding of the world (hand feeding answers). Students taught this way will think of math and physics as just a bunch of standard procedures and guesses to which equation "gives me the right answer" with 0 idea that there is a reason why you choose certain equations over others.
  13. Dec 26, 2011 #12
    I kinda' think some of you aren't very sympathetic to a student's lack of familiarity with the subject. Some need more than just a hint or two. What for heavens sake is wrong with doing a little more, maybe a sizeable more, if that's what's required for them to understand what to do? I'm not suggesting just working the problem for them, but I am suggesting perhaps having the flexibility, if it's required, to do more. And please, no one ask me for specific examples. I won't give any cus' they'll just hate me over there.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  14. Dec 26, 2011 #13
    Students must see this forum as a last resort. I expect students to read their textbooks, make the easier exercises, search the internet and only then ask it on this forum. If a student did that, then you see that their questions are well-formed and that they have very specific questions. They will be much more receptive for help.

    However, some students just want to make their assignment and are not interested in learning the subject. They just read their assignment, do no other reading and make some half-assed attempt. These are usually the people who don't get it.

    There is ALWAYS some effort you can do. You could give us the relevant information in the textbook, the solved examples, the solved exercises, your naive thoughts on the matter, etc.
    If people don't do this, then they don't deserve being helped.

    We want to guide people through the learning process. We want people to show where they went wrong. But first they need to make some kind of attempt. Then we can point out what went wrong. If the student is unable to make an attempt, then he should try harder.
  15. Dec 26, 2011 #14


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    In addition to the other good rebuttals of this viewpoint, keep in mind that one of our goals at the PF is to "help the student learn how to learn". That means challenging them to do more on their own, even if it is hard for them at first. Learning how to learn better has been a huge part of my own growth over the years, both academically and professionally.
  16. Dec 26, 2011 #15


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    Given all the responses you've gotten, and the content of those responses, I think you're beating a dead horse here. Probably be good for you to get over it and move on.

    EDIT: by the way, I do not mean to minimize your concern for the student. I just think that there is a consensus here that your suggestion is NOT the best way to actually help the student.
  17. Dec 26, 2011 #16
    Yes, ideally. I agree with that. Some don't though. They just don't know how to study well. But why would you think students have to see this forum as a last resort? I don't think they do. Rather most I believe just see it as a forum to ask questions about science.

    PF Forum
    The forum of last resort

    Centered though ok guys?

    Just playing.

    Lots of students do not know how to study well. They need help to learn how. They would benefit by encouragement I believe: They present a problem, you work a similar problem changed only slightly, maybe that's spoon-fed, but just the fact that they solve their problem even though it was essentially like the one you went through, improves their confidence to work further as opposed to "well I can't get it so I'm hosed, I'm discouraged, I'm never gonna' get this, I quit."

    I'd like to guide them through the learning process. But sometimes that in my opinion takes more than a hint or two. Sometimes I believe they need to see it worked. I remember one in particular I and others had problems on (elsewhere). They helped, quite a bit in fact but we just weren't gettin' it. The big dog there helpin' us I guess just thought "heck with it", and just worked it for us. You the man! Some students don't even know how to get it wrong and just a little more than regular help could push them over the barrier of ignorance to that of understanding.

    I'm just saying I'm a little more sympathetic to their struggle then you guys but that's ok. I'll follow the rules as I like PF and wish to stay.
  18. Dec 26, 2011 #17
    Yes, most students do not know how to study well, so they need to learn it. How do you think they learn it?? By us giving them the answer every single time?? Or by encouraging them to read the textbook and thinking about the question??

    I urge you to go to yahoo answers and see what happens there. I do NOT want this forum to be another yahoo answers. If it is, then many people will leave here immediately.
  19. Dec 26, 2011 #18
    For the record, I am officially taking Phinds' suggestion and moving on. See, I can do that. Still wish to help up there though. :)
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