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I'd like to point on the idea of question as a knowledge resource.

It has come to my knowledge that understanding a subject, especially Physics, requires experience with as many questions as possible.

Reading many solutions of expert members of the Physics site may indeed help many students to understand Physics better.
Note that each person may contribute its own point of view and technique for solving a problem.

Though the policy that I experienced on this site actually discourages questions as such:
Many of my questions have 0 (zero) votes, therefore I received a warning that alerts me from asking more questions (which would probably get 0 votes, due to their 'homework' classification).

By changing the policy and gaining questions, students will be able to understand physics merely by reading Q&A on SE!


An answer to "dmckee" which is relevant for everyone:

Indeed, essentially, you are correct! I think so too: A student must make an effort to solve a question - this is exactly what I do for each homework question that I receive.

Though what happens when you're stuck on a question for 2 hours? 4 hours? Gave it another try in the following day? Tried every possible way that you can think of?
Eventually there's a deadline for every exercise, thus time is priceless - therefore a solution is needful.

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    $\begingroup$ This has been discussed a thousand times before, most recently with this post here. It is firmly rejected regularly because the "expert members" do not want to do someone else's homework. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Mar 27 '15 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos: When a student asks for help, that is after making an effort to solve the question. A student prefers to solve homework by his own, but sometimes this sought-after wish is rejected. $\endgroup$ – Dor Mar 27 '15 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ As always, the entire context must be held in mind in order to see clearly. That fact is that many homework questions are fun to work our for someone - the first time. What happens, of course, it that more or less the same homework questions are asked ad nauseam. Personally, I'm not opposed to working homework questions when it's interesting and I'll get something out of it. However, the answerer only gets something out of it the first time, not the second, third, etc. This context is crucial. It's easy to dismiss the copy and paste 'questions' that show no effort. but ... $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Mar 27 '15 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ We have quite a few zero-effort homeworks posted here. Most do not want hints but the answer. There are multiple venues online that do this blatant homework help, they can go there and not muddy our waters. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Mar 27 '15 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ ... some of the homework questions posted here I would genuinely be interested in answering simply for the fun of working the problem out - I would benefit from the exercise. However, I understand that this would actually encourage the kind of questions we don't enjoy working out over and over again. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Mar 27 '15 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ You're graded on your ability to do the problem with your knowledge and understanding, no? And so if you haven't done it yourself, why should you get a grade on it, regardless of deadlines and effort spent? "Time is priceless" -- so is ours, and we have no problem helping somebody understand conceptual problems that would enable them to go work out a solution. But we don't want to spent our time helping somebody who is just out of time and wants a grade. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Mar 27 '15 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @tpg2114: Simply because that I learn from it. This is the whole idea behind my proposition here... $\endgroup$ – Dor Mar 27 '15 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Dor Unfortunately, the only thing that we've found people "learn" from us answering homework problems (rather than conceptual ones) is the idea "Hey, there's a whole site of suckers out there who will do my homework for me for free and I get an A!" So if you really want to learn, you'll think about the concepts where you got stuck, ask for help understanding said concepts and then take the new knowledge and solve your problem. If you do it right, nobody here would probably even know it was for homework. And you'll learn far more by thinking critically about what you don't know. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Mar 27 '15 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ Well if you are truly interested in it, there is a proposed Stack Exchange site explicitly for Physics Homework: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/77677/…. Definitely not going to help you now, but it's precisely what you want. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Mar 28 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 Why can't you say the same about other ("legitimate") questions? $\endgroup$ – Dor Mar 28 '15 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Thx :) $\endgroup$ – Dor Mar 28 '15 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Dor I'm not sure I follow. I would say the same about questions that we allow and are on topic. They should address concepts ans not just generic calculations like homework usually does. So I'm not sure what you see as an inconsistency. That's also why I said the properly phrased question wouldn't be identifiable as homework. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Mar 28 '15 at 4:19
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The pedagogical research is very firm on this. Seeing someone's solution or even watching them solve questions and explain what they are thinking as they do it is a very inefficient way to learn physics. And yes, I know that you are convinced otherwise. All students are convinced otherwise. I was convinced otherwise. I was also wrong.

What the pedagogical research suggest does work is understanding concepts and placing them in a correct framework.

The result is that the homework policy we thrashed out is actually also about the most pedagogically sound one we could have come to. If you are stuck reduce your perplexity to a conceptual question and ask that.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please see my edit $\endgroup$ – Dor Mar 27 '15 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Until now, I've mightily resisted looking up the word "pedagogical" but your post, employing the word or a variant in each paragraph, broke me. Sigh... $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Mar 28 '15 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AlfredCentauri Looking for---and eventually obtaining---a teaching position has made it my new passion. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Mar 28 '15 at 3:06

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