Physica: a computer environment for Physics problem-solving

Ross, S.M. and Bolton, J.P.R. (2002). Physica: a computer environment for Physics problem-solving. Interactive Learning Environments, 10(2) pp. 157–175.



Physica is an integrated software package designed as part of a course for distance learning students from non-traditional educational backgrounds. It gives students access to an extensive hyperlinked physics glossary, computer algebra and graph-plotting tools. The package aims to give students a framework for solving physics problems and to help them acquire some higher level skills of quantitative problem-solving. This paper outlines rationales underlying various protocols for solving physics problems, and discusses the extent to which frameworks may be useful in helping students develop appropriate strategies for representing problems in formal terms, selecting targets, planning solutions and checking answers. Pedagogical issues underlying the design and implementation of the software are discussed.

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