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Andy Resnick
Aug26-10, 08:05 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,538
Quote Quote by Gamma View Post

“Another area you may want to spend time thinking about is the level of mathematics:”

This is a real issue. My supervisor was asking me about this and I said that the students could be enrolled in a calculus course while taking the calculus based physics. But now I realize that this could be a problem because students might find it difficult to apply the calculus concepts that they just began to learn. This problem could be solved if we make the calculus course a pre-requisite. What is your experience?

Thanks for your reply.
My experience/opinion is not to turn the Physics course into a Math course. In practice, that means teaching the algebra-based course using *at most* basic trigonometry and quadratic equations. For the calculus-based course, I would limit the math to simple derivatives and integrals, but keep the general level of the course at algebra. I don't have the students do any derivations on exams, and I provided them with a formula sheet last year.

But realize, this decision is up to you- just make sure you communicate to the students on the first day what your expectations are, what they should know, and what they can do if they don't. For example, you may want to quickly solve a simple kinematics problem using calculus for the class, and tell them they are responsible for being able to work at that level if they want an 'A'.

Enjoy the experience!