Instruction, in several knowledge domains, aims at achieving two goals: acquisition of a body of knowledge and of problem solving skills in the field.
In the specific physics domain, this requires students to connect physical phenomena, physics principles, and physics symbols. This can be learned on paper. However, interactive tools can significantly contribute to increase the learner’s ability to contextualize and understand the problem.
Computer simulations – freely explorable by users – provide students with graphical models that join phenomena and principles in physics. However, a minimally guided approach may make learning difficult, since it overburdens the working memory. In particular, for developing problem solving skills, students need to be guided through and exercise with a variety of physics problems. Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) can be a useful tool to cover this guidance gap in training students in solving problems.