Students’ Difficulties in Solving Physics Problems in Introductory College PhysicsCourses at King Saud University

Fahad S. Alshaya

Abstract


The purpose of this study was to identify the difficulties facing students in introductory college physics courses at King Saud University in solving physics problems, by exploring faculty members' perceptions of these difficulties, and through analyzing students' answers to physics problems in final exams. The study mainly focused on four themes of difficulties, including: the problems verbal context, physics laws, mathematical skills and graphs or diagrams. The study also sought to learn about faculty's perception towards the degree of influence of the proposed solutions. The study sample consisted of 27 physics faculty members, in addition to 391 students. The study showed consistency between the faculty members' perception towards the difficulties of solving problems and the analysis of student answers in final exams. The difficulties related to the verbal context were the most common among students, whereas difficulties related to mathematical skills were the least common. In addition, the results revealed that there were also difficulties related to physical laws, and knowledge of graphs or diagrams. The findings showed that the perceptions of faculty members towards proposed solutions as being as a “high effect”on fourteen suggested techniques, while their perception towards the rest of the techniques were as “medium effect”. Finally, their perception towards only one technique was being of “low effect".

 


Keywords


Difficulties, solving physics problems, introductory college physics courses, King Saud University.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jeps.vol8iss2pp272-289

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Copyright (c) 2017 Fahad S. Alshaya

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