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Physics colloquium-“Assessing The Many Skills Used to Solve Complex Problems”
January 22 @ 4:00 pm
CSM Physics Department and Teach@Mines
Abstract: While working to develop and assessment of problem solving skills, we have empirically identified over 40 distinct sub-skills that affect a person’s ability to solve complex problems in many different contexts. The identification of so many sub-skills explains why it has been so difficult to teach or assess problem solving as a single skill. The existence of these sub-skills is supported by several studies comparing a wide range of individuals’ strengths and weaknesses in these sub-skills, their “problem solving toolkit,” while solving different types of problems, including a mechanics problem, quantum mechanics problems, and a complex trip planning problem with no physics. We see clear differences in the problem-solving toolkit of physics and engineering majors compared to the elementary education majors that we tested. We will discuss both the implications of these findings for guiding the teaching and assessing of problem solving in physics instruction as well as current efforts here at Mines to develop a practical problem-solving assessment tool.
Berthoud Hall 241