# Is it just practice? Or am I understanding it now?

1. Jul 30, 2013

### Tyrion101

When I started this class, I was horrible at word problems, and other things, but I was ok enough at straight arithmetic to get into the class, now it doesn't take 1500 tries to get a problem right (it usually takes 1 or 2 tries) and I'm just wondering did something click, or is it just that I've spent so much time on this that its become second nature?

2. Jul 30, 2013

### symbolipoint

You did not give us enough details. What course? What did you study previously, leading up to this course?

My guess, you suddenly learned how to analyze what is described in a word problem and list and express all important facts and relationships; including drawing of representative pictures; so maybe you very suddenly understand how to do most of that. Maybe you gradually built proficiency in this kind of problem solving of your general types of problems. YOU are the only person who can honestly understand why you are suddenly better at the problem solving which you are learning.

3. Jul 31, 2013

### HallsofIvy

Why are you thinking of those as different? When we say that "something clicked", what we mean is that something has "become second nature".

4. Jul 31, 2013

### verty

This may be a case of overtraining (this is a term from neural networks). To explain this, I'll use an example from a cartoon I saw once.

There was this intelligent but lazy shark that didn't want to go out hunting. So it bought a robot to seek out cans of fish. It showed the robot a picture of a can of fish and the robot went out to find a can of fish. Unfortunately it came back with an empty can of fish, obviously this was not what the shark wanted.

There was a dial on the robot to adjust the robot's intelligence; the shark set it to the highest setting, cleared the memory, showed the robot the picture of the can of fish and sent it on its way. It returned with a picture of a can of fish.

See, the robot was overtrained, it could recognize a picture of a can of fish but not can of fish in the wild. In the same way, doing easy homework problems until they seem easy may just mean you can do easy homework problems. You need to understand the problems or just knowing how to solve them could leave you high and dry at exam time.

5. Jul 31, 2013

### symbolipoint

What he was saying was, now he gets actual fish, real ones, not empty cans of fish; he is not sure how he was able to get those real fish and is not sure how his robot became better adjusted.

6. Jul 31, 2013

### Tyrion101

Symbol has it more right. There are still word problems I do not understand, but those weren't on the test, so it's all good.

7. Jul 31, 2013

### symbolipoint

Tyrion101
You still did not tell us what is this class. You are more in your head than are we in your head, so really you are the only person who can figure out what changed or how it changed. As well as I was able to put in to understand the shark-fish-robot metaphor, I am still not in your head, so I am only giving a vague guess. What do you differently than before? Can you identify an obstacle that was happening before which is no longer? Are you simply better focused when you translate text-described information into mathematical symbolism? Are you studying this course (which you still did not identify for us) for the second or third time?

8. Jul 31, 2013

### Tyrion101

Before I couldn't make heads or tails of math beyond adding and subtracting and now, it's like I can figure out the simpler of word problems, and even some of the algebra type problems I have been working on, there are still word problems I do not get, particularly those that involve doing a bunch of things to x that isn't obviously worded in the problem (at least to me it's not) but I will continue to work on those as I'm sure that will come across them in algebra 102 and future courses.

9. Jul 31, 2013

### lisab

Staff Emeritus
In my experience: most learning occurs the way you're doing it -- incremental, almost imperceptible progress that only happens with a lot of time and effort. That "click" thing you mentioned can and does happen, but it's rare, sadly.