The findings of the study by HBCSE researchers could have interesting implications for parents and science education, as the teaching strategies of Physics could be applied to different domains to impart general problem solving skills.
“Isolating skills that students can use across domains in solving problems could help grow the country’s human resource potential,” said Vijay Singh, who co-authored the paper with KK Mashood, both based in the Homi Bhaba Centre for Science Education. “It would help the emerging interdisciplinary trends in sciences and the varying workforce needs of the knowledge economy. Developing transferable scientific skills is important in a participatory democracy.”
Explaining the results of the study, Pratik Fegade, 18, a first-year IIT student, who got a rank of 16 in the JEE last year, said, “You could say everything is correlated. You are using similar study patterns and thinking skills.” Fegade said he considers Physics his strongest subject.
After interviewing 20 such successful students, authors of a new scientific paper found that strategies they employed included visualisation and cross checking results, which they had learned through their physics training.
This might seem self-evident, but the study backs our anecdotal understanding that those who do well in certain problem-solving situations also tend to do well in others. For instance, students who excel in JEE, also do so in the Olympiads, IIT students often do well in GRE and CAT exams, which test analytical abilities.
Successful students, however, cited other factors that could explain the findings. “It could also be about having high IQ and good time management skills, which would help in different kinds of exams,” said an IIT student who also cracked the CAT.