# Calculus Frustration

In order to do your calculus homework you've got to know how to utilize your own problem solving skills to create an answer to your homework problems. Recently, when trying to solve a problem I spent almost a half hour trying to solve a problem, but kept coming up with an incorrect answer each time! I can attribute this to the fixed mind-set problem because I kept trying to use the same methods each time on this specific question. Eventually, I had to figure out a new way to solve the problem, which required me to learn another method of approaching this problem.

Overall, the fixed mind-set seems to be a problem for me because I'll feel as though I know how to do something and keep trying a useless method to do it. Sometimes, I'm too stubborn to learn a new way of approaching problems. If you can realize you're having trouble with the fixed mind-set early on in problem solving, you can save yourself a lot of time. Keeping an open mind to alternative approaches can prove to be useful. Sometimes you overestimate your confidence in your abilities and will be hesitant to change the way you do things.

I COMPLETELY agree with you. The fixed mind-set problem keeps happening to me all the time. Whenever I see a similar integration problem or a word problem, I would use the same methods over and over again even though I'd end up with an incorrect answer. I would refuse to try a different method that my friend or the textbook would suggest because I believed that since I got the correct answer so many times using my method, I'll get the correct one this time as well. You are absolutely right when you suggest that we should always keep an open mind and try using new methods to solve problems which would save us a lot of time and add to our pool of knowledge.

Yes, calculus is a great example of the fixed functional/mental set problem that happens oh so often. A lot of math classes require memorization and generally a single or a couple of methods to solve problems. However, even though math is 100% applicable to life, this way of problem solving limits our abilities and does not fully use our human brain. I love and cringe at math because of the challenge that this provides to the brain, attacking one problem from multiple angles to arrive at one answer. A very good skill to have.

I couldn't agree with you more, especially in the area of calculus. I, too, often find myself stuck in a problem not knowing where to go or why I keep getting the wrong answer when I "know" I am doing it right. It is so easy to hold on to what we know and disregard anything else because what we know has worked for us so far even though it isn't anymore. It happens in all aspects of life too, not just in school solving problems which makes a really important thing to understand and create a skill that can get you around having a fixed mindset.

This is so true! I have had this problem many times, especially in school work. I agree with you completely. It is important to keep an open mind and be aware of other aproaches to situations. In life there are many opportunities and it is important to be able to examine them with different mindsets!

I think there are many people that share your same frustration myself included. Math, especially calculus, seems to be one of the hardest subjects to over come the metal set. My problem is that I can't apply the general rules of calculus to different problems. It seems like you have to have seen and solved a problem that is exactly the same as one you see on a test. Hopefully with time we can all over come this mental set. Good work!

Good calculus reference. I've so been there! I didn't realize the whole mind-set thing until about the end of the year. I think it's because many people are scared of thinking outside the box in case they fail. That's what I thought anyway.

This has happened especially with physics. Some of these classes require so much thinking out of the box and applying equations you have learned a few months ago sometimes it is absolutely important to be able to bounce ideas off of people, or else you will be stuck in your own mind set. Good example!

This is very true in math; one method is often focused on, so when we have to use another one we don't always realize it right away. I have only experienced pre-calc and statistics for upper-level math classes, but I know what it's like to be stuck on a problem just because I couldn't figure out the correct method.

Very true I have overestimated my skills in many different activities. Calculus and math in general have always come naturally to me but I often find myself in a fixed mind set where I don't understand how I could be wrong and keep trying problems over and over using the same method unable to find the solution. Sometimes I just need to take a step back and gather my thoughts; not only with math but life problems.

Good example that highlights some of the classic problems we encounter in problem solving. Often times we apply the same method to solve a problem, if we solved a similar problem using similar methodology. The problem is, this doesn't always work and at some point we realize we have to approach a problem differently. i know I frequently had this issue during math!

I'm the exact same way when it comes to fixed mindedness, especially when it comes to school. For example, I always write my papers in the same format with similar vocabulary and sentence structure. This isn't always a bad thing, for it usually gets me a fairly good great. This isn't as good, however, because I'm limiting my capacity and potential to be creative.