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Science and the Environment

STEM Spots: How Students Approach Problem Solving

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This week STEM Spots features Dr. Evan Frodermann, a faculty member of MSU's Department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science.  Evan’s area of interest in research is in problem solving. 

Remember back to your high school days and solving those “wonderful” word problems you had in math?  Evan and his collaborators are gathering data on how students approach the process of problem solving and how students can become more effective in the skills needed to solve problems.  They have written a software program that emulates a math coach’s instructional techniques and skills in helping students solve physics problems.

Questions the research is asking through the use of the program include:  a) can the coach help to increase the students’ confidence level in tackling problem; b) can the coach help students come to a deeper understanding of what the problem is asking for and how to approach the solution; and c) can students increase their success in solving problems?