Problem solving has an important place in learning and prior learning assessment in physical sciences. It is considered nowadays as a necessary and essential activity. Several studies have shown that students find difficulties in the learning of wave phenomenon and in problem solving, both at the phenomenological level and the conceptual level. For this purpose, we propose in our work to analyze the difficulties of high school pupils in learning the mechanical waves, locate and identify the obstacles to overcome in the different stages of problem solving. For this, we have developed a questionnaire used to locate the fields of students' difficulties and identify possible causes. We carried by means of this questionnaire a survey (paper-pencil) by requesting two types of samples in secondary school, pupils and teachers. The analysis and the exploitation of investigation results have shown that pupils encounter more difficulties in: understanding the phenomenon of interference, the mobilization of mathematical tool in particular the sine function and the analysis of spatial and temporal representations (confusion).
Waves, problem solving, interferences, sine function, graphical representation