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SENIOR STUDENTS’ STRATEGIES IN SOLVING PHYSICS PROBLEMS

L. Reddy

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Solving physics problems at any level of study is always proving to be a challenge task for students and none so for senior Analytical chemistry students at a South African university who are studying physics as part of their curriculum. It is of paramount importance to find out the nature of the difficulties they experience whilst solving physics problems. To achieve this, a questionnaire presented in the paper of Snetinova & Koupilova (2012) but developed by Ogilvie (2009) was used in this research. Students had to respond to five questions from the questionnaire in form comments about the difficulties they experienced whilst solving physics problems. In particular, the questionnaire was used to analyze what steps the students took in solving their physics problems. A total of 25 students participated in this study and a qualitative discussion of the results will be presented. A finding from this study showed that the strategy the students used was the Rolodex equation matching (finding equations that match the variables given) in solving their physics problems. Further, some of them need to first visualize the problem before solving it and others try to replicate the problem to a real life situation as a way of solving the problem.