Notes for Students  B. Gerstman (Sep 2004)

Methods of Good Problem Solvers (Whimbey & Lochhead 1999)

  1. Positive attitude - strong belief that problems can be solved thorough careful, persistent, and academic analysis
  2. Concern for accuracy - great care to understand the facts and relations fully and accurately
  3. Break down the problem into smaller steps and parts
  4. 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
  5. Be active in your problem solving - do more things as you try to understand and answers to difficult questions


  1. You, the student, can appreciate reason as a laudable goal and beautiful subject.
  2. I, the teacher, want you to become a reasoned and capable person.
  3. You, the student, are capable of learning the subjects I teach with creativity, autonomy, and care.
  4. 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.

Regarding exams 

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 mind.

General advice for young students (and those young at heart)