ADAPT Program -- Accent on Developing Abstract Processes of Thought


Date of this Version



Copyright © 1975 American Association of Physics Teachers. Used by permission.


You have probably been curious at various times in your teaching career about the thinking strategies that students enrolled in physics appear to use to solve problems. It is difficult for most of us to understand that many students do not use reasoning patterns that seem to be obvious. Many students substitute numbers into a formula they remember, even though the formula may not be applicable to the problem at hand. This situation quite naturally leads us to wonder about the reasoning that students utilize when we would employ mental operations such as separating variables, excluding an irrelevant factor, or applying a mathematical relationship such as ratios.

This module Includes three puzzles : the Volume Puzzle, the Ratio Puzzle, and the Islands Puzzle. Each puzzle is followed by several typical student responses to the puzzle.