Teaching Critical Thinking: An Example From Electricity And Magnetism

As I discussed in this post the other day, I believe that an excellent way to teach critical thinking is to present students with statements that are muddled, garbled, confused, poorly written, or just plain wrong, and instruct them to identify the errors and correct the statements. How can we train students to be critical … Read more

Students’ Misconceptions in Elementary Electricity

Today I handed back the graded mid-term tests in my first-year electricity and magnetism course, and the results were OK. The 2-hour test consisted of five problems and then a final 7-part question that probed for conceptual understanding. In the past I have asked students to write a paragraph about this or that, but this … Read more

The Field Concept in Physics

Let’s continue the story in the previous post about Newtonian mechanics. In Newton’s theory of gravity, two objects that have mass attract each other with a gravitational force simply by virtue of their mass. The strength of the force is proportional to the product of the two masses, and inversely proportional to the square of … Read more