Questionable Authenticity of Some Problems in “Fundamentals of Physics” by Halliday, Resnick and Walker: An Initial Study of Students’ Critical Considerations

  • Josip Slisko Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

Abstract

This study is an initial exploration of students’ abilities to analyze critically authenticity of physics problems, carried out with Spanish translation of the eight Edition of popular physics textbook “Fundamentals of Physics”, written by Halliday, Resnick and Walker. Students (N = 34) involved in the study were those of applied physics taking a general first-semester course “Development of Complex Thinking Skills” at the Facultad de Ciencias Físico Matemáticas of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (Puebla, Mexico). Among the aims of the course is development of 21st century 4C-skills (critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication) through self-regulated learning. In the segment of the course dedicated to critical thinking, students were informed about characteristics of authentic school problems and their task was to analyze authenticity of some problems in textbook “Fundamentals of Physics”, they use in their Mechanics course. They were supposed to pay attention to authenticity of events, data and questions used in contextualized physics problems. Results show that students are able to perform critical considerations, focusing their attention mainly on the events’ characteristics, less on the sense of questions asked and much less on data feasibility. Only one student indicated that given data in a problem seem unrealistic. Nevertheless, such a particular consideration is very important because many textbook reviewers, holding PhD in physics, were not able to detect that erroneous implicit density value in four editions during almost ten years. Some students paid attention to broader issues implied by supposed events (for example, about animal rights). Their critical considerations of negative role of non-authentic problems have in physics learning are briefly mentioned, too.

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Published
2017-12-27
How to Cite
SLISKO, Josip. Questionable Authenticity of Some Problems in “Fundamentals of Physics” by Halliday, Resnick and Walker: An Initial Study of Students’ Critical Considerations. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 1, p. 31-44, dec. 2017. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <http://eu-journal.org/index.php/EJPE/article/view/153>. Date accessed: 21 may 2018.
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Articles