Sunday, May 9, 2010

An important discipline

At an undergraduate tutorial last week I notice how many students were getting into all sorts of difficulties in solving problems because they would do the algebra just by quickly scribbling on a scrap of paper.

There is no substitute for working on lined pieces of paper and carefully writing out each line of algebra. This is a difficult discipline which even very smart people need to master.


  1. I'll go a step further and suggest that all students regularly work problems at a board (in class, in the library, or at home). I think the increased bloodflow from standing up and the tangible experience of "handling" the algebraic characters on the board help students process & practice. (Plus, it's a lot easier to revise mistakes on a board, and the final work can usually be copied down to paper in little time.)

  2. As one of the undergraduate students in the tutorial (I'm assume you're talking about PHYS2020), this post disturbs me. It disturbs me for the reason that in the tut we are supplied with paper which we were told to do our working on. If lined paper is so much better, why is the paper that we're supposed to do our working on not lined?