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Unformatted text preview: Strategies for Learning and Performance in Physics In this handout, Ive tried to sum together a variety of thoughts about how people learn physics, some of the ways they can learn it better and more easily, and to point out some of the mistakes that people often make. Ive tried to come up with concrete suggestions for overcoming the difficulties that students face. I asked the advice of friends, colleagues, teaching assistants, and others, and consulted with the staff of the Reading and Study Skills center to get practical suggestions to help you learn. If you read this and take it to heart, it really should help. [Many thanks to Carl Thum, of the Study Skills Center, who was especially generous with his time.] Study Strategies. I imagine that each of you is prepared to work pretty hard in this course. However, experience shows that many of you will spend lots of time, yet somehow not learn as much as you feel you should. You can help this situation by working more effectively. The first thing to emphasize is that it helps to work regularly on physics, preferably every day. A good strategy is to set aside about an hour a day maybe more, more likely less for this. This is far more valuable than trying to do it all in one or two marathon sessions a week. One advantage of this approach is that if you have always have physics issues in the back of your mind, your subconscious will be working on them all the time. Another is that you tend to learn new skills far more easily if you practice frequently. If you play a musical instrument or train for a sport, you can see what I mean what if you had just one practice session a week? So set aside time for a daily session with this subject you might think of it as a daily practice. You can greatly improve your understanding if you also review regularly . Perhaps at the beginning of your practice session, it would be helpful to look over some previous section of the course, amounting to maybe a few subsections of the book, and review ideally, do one problem from a previous homework. A couple of times a week, perhaps when deadline pressures are relatively mild, you might spend your whole practice session looking over the material in a previous unit. Constant repetition of the earlier stuff you have some passing familiarity with will tend to burn it in so that it becomes part of your mental furniture. It will also help you sort out the concepts and learn what parts of the subject are key and what are not. In teaching physics, its necessary for me to flesh out the main ideas a lot so that they make some sense to you; this unfortunately can obscure the relative importance of different topics. Through regular study and review, youll start to really understand the patterns, to be able to sort out which kind of problem is which, and so on. The subject is highly cumulative, so review will help you understand the current topic as well....
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2008 for the course PHYS 14 taught by Professor Thorstensen during the Spring '08 term at Dartmouth.
- Spring '08