Title: Recognizing the Role of Conceptual/Mathematical Coherence in Problem-Solving Expertise
Dr. Eric Kuo, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 3:00pm on Zoom
Abstract: Physics Education Research has demonstrated the instructional success of teaching students to start problem solving with a conceptual analysis that drives subsequent mathematical analysis. In this talk, I propose that this key finding is merely one example of how coherence between conceptual and mathematical understanding underlies physics problem-solving expertise. I will describe recent and current projects that (1) operationalize coherence-based problem solving approaches into assessment questions that can detect hidden benefits of PER-based instructional approaches, (2) characterize coherence-based problem solving strategies used by physics majors, and (3) explore extant and novel instructional design principles for teaching conceptual/mathematical coherence. Finally, I will discuss the dilemma of how much introductory physics instruction should focus on routine skills over more adaptive problem-solving practices.