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Problem Solving Physics students vs Non-science students

  1. Dec 12, 2011 #1
    I have to write a report and in one section I have to give the same problem to a bunch of physics students and a bunch of non-science majors to solve. Then I have to compare their techniques of solving it.

    I need help finding a problem to test problem solving skills that a non-math/science major can solve that will still test problem solving skills. What I mean by that is it can't be a math or physics problem but it still has to test problem solving skills. Any one got any ideas
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2011 #2


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    I do not know whether that is the kind of test you are supposed to prepare, but there are standard examples for experiments on functional fixedness like Duncker's candle holder problem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Candle_Problem or Maier's two-cord problem.
    Maybe you can come up with a variation on one of these classic experiments.
  4. Dec 12, 2011 #3
    How about something like those puzzles in IQ tests. They usually don't require maths, only logic and mental gymnastics. Though I'm not sure if it will test their problem solving skills unless you ask them to write down their thought process. Also some logic problems might be useful.
  5. Dec 12, 2011 #4
    I like the candle holder problem, especially if you were to throw some engineering students into the mix.
  6. Dec 12, 2011 #5
    I think it's essential to present the box with the tacks inside. It's kind of a no-brainer to use the box when it's not presented as a container for the tacks. When it is, some people can get mentally stuck there, and you authentically separate the problem solvers from the others.
  7. Dec 12, 2011 #6


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  8. Dec 13, 2011 #7
    Airplane on a treadmill...will it take off?
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