Tricky Topics

Understanding Tricky Topics is essential if a student is to progress in a subject, but they often represent a huge barrier. Tricky Topics are broken down into smaller Stumbling Blocks. Explore

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Children have problems understanding very large number, to deal with very large numbers and to use numbers written in scientifical notation.

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    Subject: Chemistry | Country: Portugal

    Youngsters have problems in concepts that need “abstraction”. Youngsters have problems in applying the everyday life concepts, like "speed" and "Average rate of change", in mathematical context.

    Stumbling Blocks: Create the ratio | Slope of line

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        Subject: Math | Country: Portugal

        Youngsters have problems interpreting and solving problems.

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            Subject: Math | Country: Portugal

            Use and practical application of conditions in loops (several times) versus if structures (once).  But it's not just conditions that students stumble over; it's understanding the problem in the first place.   Then, within a loop they might have:

            • a complicated condition, e.g. using %2==0 as a test for even numbers when they need only increment in twos.
            • output from within the loop rather than once after the loop
            • use a dialog when the instructions are to use print out
            • use non-self-descriptive identifiers e.g. 'sum' when they're asked to total something and thus might better call it 'total'
            • get the wrong start and stop values, e.g. 0 to start a loop to 100, but stop at 100 instead of <100, or loop 50 times instead of 100 times

            So a quiz might be:

            • What's being calculated?
            • Calculate it manually for a smaller number range, e.g. 1 to 10 instead of 1 to 100
            • How many numbers meet the criteria?
            • How much should you increment on each loop?  by 1, 2 minus 1? minus 2?  Why?
            • if you add all even numbers between 1 and 10 what do you get?
            • How many even numbers are there between 1 and 10?
            • How many odd numbers are there between 1 and 10?
            • What might you start from: 1?  2?
            • How often should you print.?
            • Write a loop to print the two times table from 1 to 12.

             

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                Subject: Technology | Country: United Kingdom

                Reinterpreting and owning scripture

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                  Practical application of understanding of different styles and genres

                  [ TEST ... ]

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                  Subject: Performance | Country: United Kingdom

                  Java Collections require use of objects, themselves a tricky topic.  The Collections objects are implemented using Interfaces and there is a mapping between the Interfaces and the Collections, e.g. HashMap and Map.

                  Then there is the need to iterate over Collections, which might be tricky for some students.

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                      Subject: Technology | Country: United Kingdom

                      How do students understand magnetism? Do they appreciate the connection between electric fields and magnetic fields?

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                        Subject: Physics | Country: United Kingdom

                        Related Chemical reactions and how acids and bases react...

                        Different definitions of acid and bases in school science and in chemistry

                         

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                        Subject: Chemistry | Country: United Kingdom

                        This was a level 3 OU Biology module that students really struggled to grasp.

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                            Subject: Biology | Country: United Kingdom
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