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Ideas and techniques to improve problem solving skills

  1. Oct 30, 2011 #1
    Hey there

    I’m currently in year 11 and I’m in physics. This year, we have been doing some basic math which relates to projectiles and conservation of momentum ect, it was pretty much just sub a whole bunch of knowns into a formula and solve for x or something, anyway, this term we have started work on energy. The year 12s work came back from panel and they said that the work being giving to them we too easy (even though many of them are a failing). Now our teachers are really pushing us to get better at problem solving.

    I just don’t know how to approach some questions sometimes. I try to think, but I just can’t :cry: Also the thing is that the style we use in physics is totally different from Maths B because in Maths B, its just simple, read question, write down knows, rearrange or manipulate formulas in your favour and solve. But in physics, we aren’t given enough to solve the question simply by reading and re-reading questions, or putting them in formulas we have to look at where the units derive from and make up our own formulas. I know its possible, but sometimes, I just can’t see it.

    Are there any ways or techniques to improve my problem solving skills, because I have a feeling that some things have been taken to a whole new level. But I can understand why our teacher is doing this, and my future goal is to become an engineer (chemical) and thats just pretty much just solving problems so I really would appreciate some assisstance.

    Thanks in advance :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2011 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    In physics you are usually expected to understand the process, you are right. Your teachers are training you to be eventually able to solve problems which have no known solutions. Congratulations.

    There are ways to improve problem-solving skills - google for "inquiry learning" and "critical analysis". But what it boils down to is doing lots of puzzles, and talk to people.

    One trick is to trawl through the beginning physics questions here are see how far you can get answering them - see if you can follow the advise people are being given. You don't have to know the answer right away, you can work it out ... or get far enough the questioner can finish it for themselves. That's most of what the rest of us do anyway.
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