STUDENTS’ ATTITUDE AND APPROACHES TO PROBLEM SOLVING IN PHYSICS AT A SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITY

L. Reddy

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Students’ attitude and approaches to problem solving can influence the way they learn physics. To assess such an influence, use is made of a questionnaire developed by Mason & Singh (2010), called the Attitudes and Approaches to Problem Solving (AAPS) for this study. This questionnaire which is comprised of 30 questions has been administered to 40 undergraduate physics for Optometry students at the end of the semester to get a holistic picture of their problem-solving skills after a semester of instruction. The data obtained was evaluated using a Likert-type scale of evaluation from Strongly Disagree (+1) to Strongly Agree (+5), from which the mean values were computed. The results reveal favorable responses on many of the items of the questionnaire. Comparison of the results resonate well with graduate students’ problem-solving attitudes and approaches in the research undertaken by Mason and Singh (2010). Of the many favorably answered questions, the item with the highest mean value relates to the use of physics equations and to an insightful understanding of the parameter that underlines the variables. On the other hand, the least favorable item pertains to an item which shows students having only one and only way in solving a physics problem. The latter item (only one of which) reflects a non-expert like view in their attitude and approaches to problem solving.