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From a discussion on teaching college physics,

but it applies quite well anyway

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What do you mean "understand" this stuff?

Here is what I give my students with regard to what I mean by understanding.

To me "understanding" means that when given an equation, you can, in your
own words:

- explain the meaning of every symbol in the equation
- describe the meaning of groups of the symbols, for example mv²/2
- describe the meaning of the entire equation

Further, you can:
- recognize any contraints or limitations on the situations to which
the equation applies
- recognize a situation in which the equation applies
- create a situation where the equation can be applied
- do proportional reasoning with the equation
- recognize and reason with graphical representations of the equation
- state whether the equation represents a definition, a fundamental
law, etc.
- match the symbols given in a picture representation of the problem
to the symbols in the equation if these are different

This is neither complete nor original but may be useful.
Frank Griffin

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
C. Frank Griffin Phone: (330) 972-8027
Department of Physics Dept.: (330) 972-7078
University of Akron Fax: (330) 972-6918
Akron, OH 44325-4001 cfg@nebula.physics.uakron.edu

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