4 Prepare to Struggle and Overcome Barriers


One primary purpose of science is to find answers. In order to accomplish that goal, scientists discover questions we don’t have answers for, figure out what work needs to be done to find the answers, and then do that work. We will examine the scientific process in more detail soon, but for now we recognize that moments of confusion are a natural part of doing science, as is the process of thoughtfully struggling through the steps necessary to become unconfused. That also happens to an effective approach for in-depth learning on many topics[1].


Brain-computer intrusive by PaulWicks at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

Until the science fiction of implanting information directly into the brain becomes reality, we must all experience some amount of confusion, struggle and discomfort during any learning process, including during this course.  Rather than fear struggling and being confused, recognize that when you are struggling is a part of in-depth learning. If you avoid struggling with a topic, you may learn it at a shallow level, but you avoid learning it in depth.   Embrace your struggles in this course as an indicator that you are learning. Enjoy the ah-ha! moments of becoming unconfused. You are completely capable of being successful at physics, but that success will not come without time and effort.


Aside from the challenges presented by the course material, which we will all face together, life will present you with additional barriers to success and some of those barriers will not be under your control. You may not be able to remove them, so you will need to work with your instructor, advisor, family, and co-workers to find ways to get over, under, around, or straight through them.

Everyday Example

This term Jesse is taking two online courses and a face-to-face science course with a lab, so he will need to be on campus four days per week. Jesse lives and works in a rural area 20 miles from campus and there is no bus system between his home and campus. Jesse has a vehicle, but it’s not very reliable and he expects that he won’t make it through the term without a breakdown. Most of his money will go to tuition, gas and rent so Jesse does not have money available for a new vehicle. Jesse has identified a mechanical breakdown as a possible barrier to his academic success, but he doesn’t want to let that barrier stop him. Jesse is brainstorming things he can do now in preparation for meeting and defeating this barrier so that it doesn’t surprise him later. Got any ideas for Jessie?

Reinforcement Exercises



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