Study Strategies: What does this problem want me to do?
Solving problems in STEM courses often requires identifying the correct procedure for solving a problem. If, under the time pressure and stress of an exam, you jump right at a problem, you may choose the wrong procedure to solve it.
To train yourself to look before you leap, when working on problem sets, ask and answer the questions, “What does this problem want me to do? How will I give it what it wants?” for each problem.
Rashmi Kumar, Ed. D., STEM Specialist at the Weingarten Center, consistently teaches her undergraduate and medical students to ask these questions before they jump at the problem, so they are more likely to pair it with the right procedure:
What does this problem want me to do?
Define the goal of the problem
It might make the work a little more fun, and you will be faster and better at problem-procedure pairing on the midterm:
How will I give the problem what it wants?”
Identify the procedure that should be paired with the problem
Susana is about to solve a STEM problem. She asks herself,
What does this problem want me to do?
Hmm, it wants me to calculate the torque at a perpendicular force.
Then she asks,
How will I give it what it wants?
First I have to convert the units into the expected format. Next, I’ll need to identify the right equation. Then I’ll be ready solve the equation.
Simple and easy, right?
Practice it until it is an automatic habit and you will do it under pressure.
And for added fun, try saying “problem-procedure pairing” ten times fast!
By Staff Writer: Nicholas Santascoy, Learning Instructor
Study Strategies: Spring Clean Your Academic Life
While it might not feel like spring outside yet, it is definitely around the corner. Spring break is over, and this semester is already halfway complete. Before we become busy with spring social commitments, with enjoying the nice weather (it’s coming, I promise!), and with beginning to study for finals, this point in the semester can be a great time to do some academic spring cleaning.
Sound new to you? Often, we often only think of spring cleaning as a chore we complete with our dorms, houses, or apartments, but actually this can be a great point in the semester for taking time to reorganize your academic life. Spending a few hours clearing out old papers and organizing important files can help you feel recharged and ready to take on the rest of the semester.
So turn on some music, open up the curtains to let some sunlight in, and get ready to get organized. Here are some suggestions for how to spring clean your academic life:
- Take some time to go through your folders (or the paper crumpled at the bottom of your backpack).
- Recycle the papers you don’t need anymore.
- If papers will be useful or helpful later in the semester or in future classes, place them in a labeled folder.
- Organize the files on your computer.
- Make sure you have created file folders for each of your courses this semester. Sort your files accordingly. Make sure to add any downloaded files that will be useful.
- Delete the computer files you no longer need.
- If you are reading a lot of PDFs, make sure you are keeping them organized for easy reference when you are writing future essays. Tools like OneNote, Notability, or Zotero can be great for helping to keep PDFs organized.
- Sort out your Inbox!
- This task can be dreaded, but now can be a good time to take charge of your email if it’s gotten out of hand.
- Delete unread or unneeded messages.
- Place important emails in their applicable folders
- Take yourself email chains that you don’t need or send them directly all an advertisement folder so they aren’t clogging up your main inbox.
- Take stock of your books and textbooks.
- If you’re like me and you have too many books, make sure you’ve made any returns to the library.
- See if you can sell back any books on Amazon or another site.
- Donate books you no longer need to on-campus donation sites or a local library.
- Review your planner and/or schedule.
- Make sure your spring commitments are updated.
What else do you do to recharge and reorganize during the spring? Let us know!
Remember, instructors at Weingarten are here to help with any of your academic needs! Call 215 – 573 – 9235 to make an appointment. Or, stop by Monday thru Friday from 12pm to 3pm and Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 4pm to 7pm for walk-in appointments.
By: Kelcey Grogan, Weingarten Learning Instructor and Learning Fellow