**Learning aids for students taking physics**

(a shorter version of this post had been published in Phys. Educ. 50 (2015) 694-698, http://stacks.iop.org/0031-9120/50/694, October, 2015).

In a different post (http://www.cognisity.how/2018/04/MOCC.html) I
have described the structure and the meaning of a map of operationally
connected categories (MOCC) as an instrument for classifying physics problems.

In my teaching experience, MOCCs also proved to be a helpful
teaching instrument.

One of the use of MOCCs is having it drawn for a problem
being solved in front of a class. The visualisation of logical
connections between quantities helps students to grasp the logic of creating of
the solution. Some students develop a habit of using MOCC when study physics.

Below is an example of a MOCC developed by a student for topic "Electric Current".

The pedagogical use of MOCCs
is more efficient if combined with the use of other learning aids (a.k.a. teaching tools).

(I) A physicist always compares a given problem against a
set of previously
known situations (models), and to do that he or she uses a certain
classification (usually on a subconscious level). A teacher can show students
this kind of mental work as a part of the problem-solving process.

**An example of a model classification for problem solving**

For example, in elementary Kinematics, to identify the model
we deal with two main parameters of classification:

*1. The form of the trajectory; 2. The behavior of the speed.*Within the standard framework, the following values of the parameters are important:
In relation to the values of the parameters, four main
kinematics models can be identified.

One cannot use the table to solve

*any*problem on Kinematics, but we can use*the principle*!
(II) When the model is identified; then we can assemble a
set of the most important physical quantities needed to investigate the model,
for example as shown in the table below (these are the physical quantities
which are most probably involved in solving a problem on Kinematics).

(III) Finally, we can write equations which (most probably)
will be useful for solving a problem. For example, the table below represents
the correspondence between the kinematical models and the formulae which can be
used for them.

It is important to emphasize that this step – choosing
equations – is usually

*the last step*of the analysis of the problem (when done by an expert). After this step physics is done, merely mathematical calculations are left.
(IV) When a physicist reads a problem
he/she translates it immediately (and intuitively) into the text written using
a general language. For example, a problem “For a takeoff, an airplane needs to
reach speed of 100 m/s. The engines provide acceleration of 8.33 m/s

^{2}. Find the time it takes for the plain to reach the speed.” will be translated as: “A body moves from rest with a constant acceleration (which is given) and at some instant of time (which is unknown) has a specific speed (which is given).”
A special tool – “a dictionary” – will help students to
conduct this kind of translation.

An example of “a dictionary”:

All the learning aids (a.k.a.
teaching tools) describe above can be used as a part of the tool for measuring
learning outcomes of students taking physics course: students can be offered
identify a model, translate a problem, draw a MOCC for the given problem, to
follow a general algorithm
for solving physics problems.

A teacher also may find
useful my description of a general thinking process
which is a part of a reasoning every expert problem solver uses when
solving a physics problem.

Thank you for visiting,

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

Education Advancement Professionals

GoMars.xyz

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

Education Advancement Professionals

GoMars.xyz

To learn more about my professional experience:

The voices of my students

"The Backpack Full of Cahs": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution

Essentials of Teaching Science

The voices of my students

"The Backpack Full of Cahs": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution

Essentials of Teaching Science

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**Literature**

Voroshilov V., “Universal Algorithm for Solving School
Problems in Physics” // in the book "Problems in Applied Mathematics
and Mechanics". - Perm, Russia, 1998. - p. 57.

Voroshilov V., “Application of Operationally-Interconnect
Categories for Diagnosing the Level of Students' Understanding of Physics” //
in the book “Artificial Intelligence in Education”, part 1. - Kazan, Russia,
1996. - p. 56.

Voroshilov V., “Quantitative Measures of the Learning
Difficulty of Physics Problems” // in the book “Problems of Education,
Scientific and Technical Development and Economy of Ural Region”. -
Berezniki, Russia, 1996. - p. 85.