Highschool-courses, at least in my country, are structured in a way that you tackle with a higher level of a given subject after some time constraint. So, after one year, you get to a higher class where the questions are more difficult and concepts are more of a challenge to your skill level.

Recently, I started thinking very deeply of how exactly we should teach students, and on that idea, I started browsing physics and mathematics stack exchange to see what the basic level questions which people have when they start studying a field (and also some self analysis).

From my study (*), I concluded that people have most confusion in the most basic concepts. For example, simple things such as resolution of vectors or the assumptions in the kinematic formula derivations are confusing to people. This made me think that perhaps we are rushing through the subject material more quickly than most people can grasp it.

Or, maybe it is that people take much longer to grasp the basic things, so they have to figure it out on their own and it is something which each has to do their own. I personally feel that this may not be the case but rather if you explain the correct basics to someone properly then they can do anything more complex easily.

This phenomena came more clear to me when I started doing a college course, and started realizing that most of my confusion which I had with the experience of the same subject in high school was due to incomplete information. Surprisingly, the course I did had less complexity of application and more on the fundamentals which made me appreciate and understand the subject more. I couldn't understand why we were keeping the simple fundamentals for college and the complicated applications in high school!

Therefore, I ask this question:

How researched is this topic I am discussing? If yes, what are the conclusive findings on the best methods to deal with such hindrances in education? if not, then why aren't we researching this topic/not in large interest?

*: I couldn't really get sample sizes and I found surveying people individually to be a difficult task.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that you're looking at different population samples when comparing lower level and higher level topics. Many of the students who had a lot of difficulty with very basic concepts will probably not progress to more advance level material. For example, those who had a lot of difficulty with linear equations in one variable might never study topics involving quadratic equations, logarithms, etc. Those who had a lot of difficulty with basic vector notions in high school physics will probably not take a college physics course (some won't even attend college). $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2020 at 18:11


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