Here it is, the syllabus in all of its glory. It may be a bit long,
but that is because it is full of valuable information. ;-)
- 101 Seaver Hall, 9:00-
12:00 MTWRF, (whew…)
- College Physics
by Randy Knight, Brian Jones and Stuart Field (Pearson/ Addison Wesley,
2007). We will cover most of parts I- IV in this course and the remaining
parts will be discussed in physics 254. (Note that the Student Workbook
comes bundled with the text and is required for the course.)
- If you purchased
a new textbook, you should have received an access code for Mastering
Physics, which is Pearson/ Addison Wesley’s companion web
site for our book. (www.masteringphysics.com) If you bought a used book,
you can still access the site for a $45 fee. The site is completely
optional, however it may be worth looking at if you want some additional
help. There you’ll find tutorials that guide you through a problem,
with personalized hints. There are also many simulations on the site,
which are freely available.
- Who am I?: Jeff
Phillips (a.k.a. Dr. Jeff)
- Where I "live":
106 Seaver Hall
- When I tend to
be "home": MTWR 1:00- 2:00. I’m normally around my office and
more than willing to meet with you at other times. You may want to set
up an appointment with me if you want to avoid a trip to an empty office.
One note about office hours, you’re more than welcomed to stop
by even if you just want to work on homework and have me serve as a
“consultant.” You don’t have to have specific questions
to justify a visit, sometimes the most valuable discussions are ones
that aren’t planned.
- Other ways to
contact me: phone- 338-7811 and email- firstname.lastname@example.org
Student responsibilities include (but not limited to):
- Coming to class
prepared which includes actively reading the text, trying various example
problems, and studying any additional handouts.
- Attempting all
homework, this can be done either individually or in study groups with
your classmates (simply be careful not to rely on your classmates so
much that you cannot solve problems by yourself on tests).
- Asking questions
when material is unclear, this can be done during office hours, in class
or via email.
Dr. Jeff’s responsibilities include (be are certainly not limited to):
- Being receptive
to student feedback and suggestions concerning both course content and
- Providing opportunities
for students to assess their own progress.
- Employing several
modalities (verbal, visual, tactile, etc) when introducing topics so
as to accommodate different learning styles.
- Maintaining a
respectful and student-centered environment.
Behind the Course Design
will be taught in a “student-centered” style using various
strategies designed to promote active engagement with the material. Most
of our class time will be spent asking and answering questions, doing
demonstrations, and participating in group activities. This design is
not based on a whim, rather it stems from years of educational research
by some rather smart people.
|Tell me, I'll
Show me, I'll believe.
Involve me, I'll learn.
Native American Proverb
|I hear and I
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.
(drum roll please)
Please read this
section carefully. (Okay, I hope you read all of the sections carefully,
but I know this one is of particular interest to you.) As I mentioned
in the previous section, people tend to learn a skill best by practicing
it. This is probably common sense to you. After all, one hardly becomes
a great quarterback by simply watching Monday Night Football every week.
If you want to be a better athlete (or musician or painter or poet or…)
you would practice the fundamentals of that activity as well as prepare
for “game situations” (or concerts or whatever). You can think
of our homework as the practices, the tests as games or concerts, and
me as a coach.
Here is how the
different activities will be weighted:
Three in-class tests (10% each)
20% In-class activities, including laboratory experiments
Our semester is divided into four units, see the separate schedule. (Notice
that this division differs slightly from the text’s “parts.”
We’re going to divide the first part, “Force and Motion”,
into two units.) There will be a test at the end of each unit, except
for the Matter and Oscillations unit, which has no test.
All grades in this
class will be based on a fixed scale, which means that you shouldn’t feel
any need to "compete" with your classmates. The grading scale we
will be using is as follows:
|87- 89= B+
83- 86= B
|77- 79= C+
73- 76= C
60- 69= D
0- 59= F
Within The Units
Each Unit will feature
three separate phases. In phase builds on the others. (Some units will
have multiple cycles.) First we begin with a qualitative investigation
and discussion. This will help us to understand what we trying to study.
Then we develop a model (or theory if you like) of what we have seen.
The final phase is really the fun part- this is where we apply our hard
work to interesting and challenging situations. For what it’s
worth this structure is based on what educational researchers call the
"Learning Cycle." Many others have shown that this format
is one of the most effective at helping students learn new material,
particularly the science.
Investigation- In the first phase we will make careful observations
of the world through demonstration, experiments and videos. Before
we start to create theories or jargon, we want to simply describe
what happens in our own words.
Model Formation & Testing- This will be the bulk of each
unit. Here we will create a model (or theory) of what we observed.
These models will be described very carefully using specific terms
and/ or mathematics. Once we think we understand what is going on,
we will try the model on similar systems. Think of this as your
time to tinker, and allow yourself to make mistakes. Don’t expect
that you’ll get it right all of the time- nobody does!
Application- After we feel comfortable with our model, we
can then apply it to new situations. Here we can take what we discovered
with simple experiments and apply it to “real-world” situations.
This is where the power of physics can be seen.
may be wondering- where the textbook fits into all of this “exploring”
and “model testing?” Most science texts are very dense and
take some thought to read. The good news is that they have an incredible
amount of knowledge within them; almost too much. You need to remember
that it has taken some of the world’s smartest and most persistent
people hundreds of years to figure out what is written in our text.
In order to compress all of this knowledge into a somewhat reasonable
size, most of the “superficial” information has been stripped
out. Unfortunately, this includes the questions which these clever individuals
were trying to answer. What good are the answers without the questions?
It’s not impossible to make sense of the information, I’m
just saying it will take some work.
Within our unit structure,
it would be a good idea to read the text while we are building and testing
our models. After all, this is what it does best. The practical message
is this: you should read the text actively, and complete all of the
reading for a unit within the first couple days. That way you’re
either ready to ask questions about the reading or apply the ideas to
exercises and problems.
What you do outside
of class is as important as what we do in class, if not more so. Often
at the end of classes, you will be given exercises (worksheets or textbook
questions) to complete for the next class. These will be key to our investigation
and testing phases. Consequentially, you are not expected to have all
of “right answers” and the exercises will be graded according
to a the following system
10- very thorough
explanations and solutions
8 - good effort, complete, mostly correct
6 – incomplete (looks like something thrown together ten minutes
0 - ouch!; either you failed to turn in your worksheet on time, or you
made no effort
you can see the grading here emphasizes making a good faith effort. These
exercises are designed to help you focus your studying on the essentials
and begin to apply the concepts. You shouldn’t feel as though you
need to work on the exercises in a vacuum- work with other students and
ask Dr. Jeff questions.
Homework in the testing
phase will involve mostly exercises from the textbook and. Since this
course focuses more on how you do a problem rather than whether you’ve
gotten the right answer (this is true on exams and quizzes as well as
homework), the grading of homework will emphasize process as well as correct
physics. (For example a math error is not as significant as one that involves
incorrect physics.) What is most important is that we improve our problem
solving and critical thinking skills. Thus, in writing up homework solutions,
you should write out complete solutions. We will discuss the level of
necessary detail later in class, but the basic criteria will be- can somebody
else read your solution and understand each step. This means no ESP should
be necessary when trying to understand a solution. You should pay special
attention to the beginning of the problem (where you build a mental model
of the situation, describe any assumption made and identify the relevant
physics principles). Other parts of a thorough solution can include pictures
(with clear labels), step-by-step mathematical solutions, and a final
“evaluation” where you ask yourself “does this answer
make sense?” (Is it reasonable to have the speed of a car come out
to be 6 x 108 m/s?)
Again, the goal here is
to improve problem-solving skills in the context of understanding the
physical world around us. Once you have mastered these skills, you can
solve any problem given to you (not just ones that are similar to examples
in the text). And, these skills are extremely valuable in other courses
and after graduation, no matter what your career.
In the final, application,
phase we will see additional exercises as well as problems. Problems are
usually more complex than exercises as they often involve multiple concepts.
The question may not be stated as the need to find any particular quantity;
the problem may ask for a judgment, in which case you must decide what
quantities you need to find in order to make a good judgment. In other
words, this is much more like “real” life. The criteria for
grading problems is essentially the same as the text exercises.
to work collaboratively- studying together is one good way to learn physics.
But don’t just copy work from a friend! You will help yourself in
the short run (good score on the homework assignment, maybe) but punish
yourself in the long run (you’re not learning anything, and it’ll
show on exams and quizzes). Also, you should be aware that simply copying
a friend’s work is not working together, it is, in fact, plagiarism
and is a violation of the University’s Honor Code.
There are in-class tests
following the completion of each unit (see the class schedule for dates).
In addition, there will be a comprehensive final exam, which will be worth
25% of your grade.
will consist of conceptual questions of the multiple choice, short answer,
and fill-in-the-blank variety as well as numerical exercises. For each
test, you will be allowed to bring in one 3”x5” note card.
You can write down anything you want on this card- equations, notes, examples,
prayer to St. Albert (patron saint of scientists), whatever. Keep in mind
that physics is a description of physical phenomena. Sometimes we use
the language of mathematics to articulate these ideas, but the math itself
is not physics. Exams will be written to test your understanding of physics
You should understand
that while each test is associated with a particular unit that does not
mean that the physics that we learned before that unit can be forgotten.
Each unit relies on the previous ones. A test will certainly emphasize
the material of that particular unit, but concepts and problem solving
techniques from the previous unit may also appear on the test.
One consequence of this
cumulative nature of the course is that when you receive your test back
with corrections, it would be beneficial to review it and learn from any
mistakes. To help encourage this I’m going to offer each of you
the opportunity to make corrections to their tests and earn back some
of the points you may have missed. Also, all of us sometimes make
mistakes, especially when we under pressure as in a test, and it can be
very frustrating not being able to fix your mistakes. We will discuss
the test correction scheme more before the first test.
Note that there are
no make-up tests unless you can provide documentation of some dire
circumstance that prevented you from being present at the test.
(If you know that
you will not be able to take a test at the scheduled time due to other
campus commitments, you need to notify Dr. Jeff ahead of time so alternative
arrangements can be made.)
Because of the nature
of the summer session, the line separating the “laboratory”
and the “lecture” portions of the course will be blurred.
This mixing will allow us to better integrate the results of our experiments
into our discussions. Some of the experiments may be brief and qualitative
while others will require detailed analysis. Throughout all of the experiments
you will have the opportunity to learn about the scientific method.
As with all courses at
LMU, each student is expected to contribute to the course. This
doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to present a 30 minute lecture
on quantum electrodynamics; rather, simply asking questions or sharing
your ideas is all it takes. As was mentioned several times before,
people learn best when they do something or they try to explain it to
others. So, by participating in discussions you will not only help
yourself, but also your classmates- definitely a win-win situation.
We’ll try and be as flexible
as possible, not going too fast, but this course will require each of
us to work outside of class, to come to class prepared, and to participate.
It is important that everybody asks questions when they’re unsure about
something. Ask in class, after class, in office hours, over email
,etc. With sufficient feedback (both students giving to the instructor
as well as the instructor giving to the students) we should be able to
keep the course at a reasonable, yet challenging level.
In addition to in-class
discussions we will have out-of-class discussions in which you are asked
to participate. There is an electronic whiteboard set up at LMU’s
BlackBoard web site. There you will find a board just for our class.
BlackBoard is basically a system to handle forms on web pages (with some
extras thrown in). The board will be divided into section or pages
and on those you can post comments or questions. Anything is fair
game- suggestions on how the course is run, unaddressed questions from
readings or class discussions, conversations about a concert in which
you're performing, and on and on.
submission of the work of others, etc. violates LMU’s Honor
Code and may result in penalties ranging from a lowered grade to
course failure or expulsion. Often students will be allowed to work together
in groups on homework assignments, but this does not mean you are able
to turn in somebody else’s work. Any group work (in or out of class)
is meant to be a collaborative effort that improves the students’
understanding of physics as well as team working skills. When in doubt
as to whether or not group work is permitted, or what exactly constitutes
collaborative teamwork versus plagiarism, ask Dr. Jeff. A further discussion
of the campus policies and student obligations are given in the Undergraduate
Homework will be accepted
the following class period after the due date (unless otherwise stated
assignments are due at the beginning of class). However, there is a late
penalty of a 50% reduction in the score. So, if you turn in a worksheet
the next class and receive 8 points out of a possible 10, then your actual
grade becomes 4 points out of 10. Assignments will NOT be accepted after
this grace period.
If you know of any campus
activities that will interfere with class, you should inform Dr. Jeff
ahead of time so fair adjustments can be made. Students who require alternative
accommodations due to learning disabilities should contact Disability
Support Services in Daum Hall.