Notes for Students B. Gerstman (Sep 2004)
Methods of Good Problem Solvers (Whimbey
& Lochhead 1999)
- Positive attitude - strong
belief that problems can be solved thorough careful, persistent, and
- Concern for accuracy - great
care to understand the facts and relations fully and accurately
- Break down the problem into
smaller steps and parts
- Avoiding guessing - poor
problem solvers tend to jump to conclusion and guess without
going through the steps needed to make sure the answers are accurate
- Be active in your problem
solving - do more things as you try to understand and answers to difficult
- You, the student, can
appreciate reason as a laudable goal and beautiful subject.
- I, the teacher, want you to
become a reasoned and capable person.
- You, the student, are capable
of learning the subjects I teach with creativity, autonomy, and care.
- The overall goal of this art is to
become a self-governing intellectually autonomous person who is capable of
living a happier more fulfilling life in service to yourself and others.
- There is no such thing as a
- Good tests try to determine
if students are learning the concepts covered in class and in homework assignments.
- Good tests are objective and
create high expectations.
- Good tests encourage good
study habits (i.e., they don’t rely on cramming).
- It is the instructor's
responsibility to construct good tests.
- It is a student's
responsibility to prepare for good tests.
Time and effort requirements for college
Learning comes at a cost.
The costs are time, effort, and the willingness to look at something
differently than before. Time requirements for sincere learning are
often underestimated. Learning is a slow practice that requires careful
observation and patience. There are a lot of rules for how much time is
required for learning. I generally work under the assumption that one of my
three unit courses will require at least 8 hours of careful attention each week
(on the average). This is a considered 8 hours, not a multi-tasking, distracted
8 hours. Most of this learning occurs outside of the classroom, preferably in a
quite place such as a library. For younger students, they should compare
expectation to the typical high school situation in which the majority of
time is spent in class on the high school campus. The effort we put into
our studies should be devoted to changing one's own awareness.
Intellectual awareness means that you are becoming smarter. To become smarter,
you should question current assumptions. This requires a critical yet open
General advice for young students (and those young at heart)
- Keep up with your
studies by managing your time carefully. (Being a full-time student requires about 40 hours of study per
week: 40 hours per week / 5 courses = 8 hours per week per course.
If general, this means 3 hours of in-class time and 5 hours of outside of
- Avoid cramming. (It doesn't work anyway.)
- Good scholarship requires
awareness and attention to detail. (A good
case can be made that the entire benefit of higher education comes from
the increase in attention to detail that it involves.)
- Click: ReadingTips.htm
- Motivation is unique
to the individual. What works for one person will not necessarily work for
another. For example, some students are motivated by confidence, while
others become overconfident; some are motivated by fear, while others
become paralyzed by fear. Some are motivated by wanting to show others how
good they are, while others are turned off by having to prove themselves.
You must be judge of what works for you.
- Avoid fads. Results
come from hard work and careful planning. There are no shortcuts.