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(The Art Of?) Asking Profs about Assigned Homework

  1. Oct 11, 2009 #1
    How does it reflect upon your quality as a physicist if you ask a professor questions about homework they assigned that you are stuck on? Obviously, a good (theoretical) physicist cannot be walked through a problem to its solution, but a good theoretical physicist also does not act too stubborn and proud to accept help from others, lest it hinder progress in the "real world" of physics. So, how do you handle this dilemma? I want to prove that I'm a *good* and competent physicist, but also that I'm not so proud that I don't accept help from others.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2009 #2
    A good physicist can and will receive help.
    Collaboration is a very important part of learning.
    Intelligence is not innate.
    Competence and collaboration are not mutually exclusive.

    Education is not a competition. If you don't understand something, get help; Your instructors are there for a reason. The ones who continually ask questions are often the most driven students.
  4. Oct 11, 2009 #3
    It makes no sense to talk about how good someone is based upon the amount of questions they ask. It is always good to ask questions.

    When asking questions about assigned homework, I would just make sure you have attempted the problem or read the book. You want to show that you have actually attempted the problem and can ask an intelligent question about where to go from where you are stuck. It is usually pretty annoying to have a student come in for help when they haven't even attempted the problem or read the relevant sections (this is coming from a math TA).
  5. Oct 11, 2009 #4
    Yeah the best thing to do is show that you attempted the problem. Also try to remember that the proff/TA is there to guide you to the solution, not give it to you. As long as you treat the session like that they'll be more than happy to help you out.
  6. Oct 12, 2009 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I agree with what has been posted so far. I think it helps to show that you not only have "attempted" the problem, but to show you have really struggled with it. Ideally, you would be able to say "I've gotten this far; if I could only figure out how to get from here to there, I can take it the rest of the way myself."
  7. Oct 12, 2009 #6
    Remember, a lot of what you ask helps(your professor that is) in determining how much you understood. Questions are like feedback channels to judge the students. You might impress him/her, or just end up plain in mud with an extremely disgruntled professor.
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