Developing a classification scheme of definitions of Fermi problems in education from a modelling perspective

Jonas Bergman Arleback*, Lluis Albarracin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contribution


In this paper we use a modelling perspective to analyse three descriptions and definitions of so-called Fermi problems found in the literature. We discuss how the three definitions align with, and what they potentially have to offer to, realistic or applied modelling, contextual modelling, educational modelling (either a didactical or conceptual), socio-critical modelling, epistemological or theoretical modelling, and cognitive modelling. Our findings show that the definitions share some similarities, but for the most part are formulated in lose terms. From a modelling perspective, we found that the conceptualisation of Fermi problem we studied foremost and directly align with contextual modelling and both strands of educational modelling. We also discuss the seemly incompatibility between Fermi problems and the other modelling perspectives, and suggest new lines of research on Fermi problems in particular, and on conceptualizing modelling in general.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Fermi problem
  • modelling
  • modelling perspectives

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