X2 Issues

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A few words about Exam 2:

As you know, for the second exam, questions were restricted to an open question-and-answer period after the introduction of the problems. This is a mode everyone has seen before and will probably see again. Other modes do not allow for questions.

I decided on the adopted procedure after discussion with some of my colleagues and after reviewing the types of questions typically asked during the first exam. My teaching associates merely followed the procedure. By the way, since the question has come up, they are not well payed, with stipends of about half that of a young postdoctoral associate.

The exam problems will be discussed in detail in the recitations. However, they should have been all very familiar, in particular Problems 2 and 3. Problem 2 was one of the examples done explicitly in class. Problem 3 is identical with (part of) the demonstrated book Example 10.5 (Zumdahl, p.415). So, everybody should have gotten all points on that one. The main issues associated with Problem 1 were discussed in class, at length and with numerical examples. In solving Problem 5, remembering Figures 10.3 and 10.4 and the associated discussion would have been helpful. These problems can and should serve as benchmarks, helping draw conlusions about strengths and weaknesses, study habits, class attendance, etc.

As you have seen, there are different types of problems in this and other books, and in on-line systems such as CALM. The simplest are multiple-choice questions or questions whose answers are based on straight-forward application of mathematical algorithms. These are typically called "drill and practice" problems, comparable to the introductory mechanical things one learns in military bootcamp. The more difficult ones require the ability to put things in perspective, recognize patterns, solve by association, etc. As I tried to explain in class before, I believe that the ability to solve the second kind is difficult to acquire without proficiency in solving the simpler problems. However, it is the second type of capacity that the sought-after quality of a "problem solver" entails. We will have to continue to do both.

Enjoy your break, and see you soon!

-- Anonymous, March 07, 2000

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