Class average for my physics mid-term was 8/30, Seriously

In summary: I have no idea. I just kind of feel like I should be able to figure it out if I try hard enough. But I just don't know how.In summary, the student is struggling in a physics course and is unsure how to improve. The student has a strong grasp of the content, but struggles with understanding why the material is being taught and proofs.
  • #36
PeroK said:
There's no delusion. Whoever parts freely with their money for goods or services is the customer, by definition.

In most public universities in the US, the taxpayer is paying roughly 2/3 of the costs, and student tuition only accounts for about 1/3 of the costs.

Therefore, the taxpayer is more the customer than the student.

You can continue your delusion that the student is the customer, but it will only harm your chances of success.

You will have lots of great excuses for your failure. Console yourself with them.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #37
A couple of things:

1) About half of "Calculus 1" isn't calculus at all. It's what is usually taught in a course called "College Algebra".
2) According to the syllabus for Calculus 2, by now a student should be able to solve the problem you posted.
3) "It was never given in a homework or an exam" doesn't mean you're not responsible for knowing it. "I'm not even sure if I needed to understand it". You do. "Some explanations were made using integrals". Then you need to know them, even if the exact integral never came up in class.
 
  • #38
LuigiAM said:
@ZapperZ

This is the syllabus for Math 203 (differential calculus), which is the prereq for the physics classes:

https://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/artsci/math-stats/docs/Outlines 2017-2018/MATH203_4_17.pdf

This is the syllabus for Math 205 (integral calculus), which is not a prereq:

https://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/artsci/math-stats/docs/Outlines 2017-2018/MATH205_4_17.pdf

The official syllabus for Math 203 includes integration.

http://www.concordia.ca/academics/undergraduate/calendar/current/sec31/31-200.html
MATH 203 Differential and Integral Calculus I (3 credits)
Prerequisite: MATH 201 or equivalent. Functional notation. Differentiation of polynomials. The power, product, quotient, and chain rules. Differentiation of elementary functions. Implicit differentiation. Higher derivatives. Maxima and minima. Applications: tangents to plane curves, graphing, related rates. Approximations using the differential. Antiderivatives, definite integrals, area. Lectures and tutorials.
 
  • #40
Well, it sounds like the math department promised to teach you integral calculus, and didn't. I think you have a valid beef, but not with the physics department.
 
  • #41
@Vanadium 50
It is a bit strange. That link atyy posted is the first time I ever seen anything on the school website mentioning integrals with Math 203. I assume it's a mistake on that specific page of the site. Math 203 definitively has no integrals. I definitively knew going in Math 203 that there weren't going to be integrals in the course, it's not like it was a surprise.

Although I do wonder about the communication between departments. Last semester during mechanics there was a conversation in the class about it since many people in the class had never seen an integral, and the teacher's reaction was basically along the lines of "how is this possible? they said you did calculus"

The physics and math departments are completely independent from each other
 
  • #42
LuigiAM said:
@atyy

Math 203 most definitively does not include integration.

Here are the official course outlines:

https://www.concordia.ca/artsci/math-stats/programs/course-outlines.html

The syllabus for Math 203 is there:

https://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/artsci/math-stats/docs/Outlines 2017-2018/MATH203_4_17.pdf

I mean, I took that class last year lol

I understand your point. However, that is the same set of pages that lists the prerequisites for each course. So if you know that one prerequisite for EM is Math 203, then you should also know that Math 203 is supposed to include integration.

Anyway, I suggest you try your best to study integration and understand it beyond memorizing formulas. It's very important. The key concepts are that integration is the summation of the area under a curve, and that integration is the inverse of differentiation. You can see this in physics by considering the relationship between distance-time graphs and velocity-time graphs. The conceptual extension to multiple variables is relatively straightforward at the level of Gauss's law in situations with high symmetry. When you go to multiple variables in full detail, you need another technical tool called the Jacobian, but that basically is a means to calculate an area or volume, so it is the same concept as in basic integration. Beyond the Jacobian, there is only one more technical tool called Stokes's theorem, which enables one to state Gauss's law equivalently in integral and differential forms. That is essentially all the calculus you need for physics.
 
  • #43
I examined the sample problem Q 14. that you included. The question is ill-posed. Why has the professor provided the "energy" of the system as -22 microcoulombs. If you are trying to picture the problem in your mind before attempting the problem, you are going to have a hard time relating the energy of the rod and the E field the rod produces.

I suspect the professor meant charge and not energy. Nevertheless, I can legitimately envision a student spending several minutes trying to wrap their minds around what is (erroneously) provided in the problem (trying to relate the energy of the rod to the E-field). I should hope the professor noted the mistake (although the mistake has also not been corrected by other readers in this forum so far), and clarified the problem in front of the class before the exam commenced.

If the other problems from the test or homework were in a similar vein, no wonder the class average was so low.
 
  • #44
mpresic3 said:
I examined the sample problem Q 14. that you included. The question is ill-posed. Why has the professor provided the "energy" of the system as -22 microcoulombs. If you are trying to picture the problem in your mind before attempting the problem, you are going to have a hard time relating the energy of the rod and the E field the rod produces.

I suspect the professor meant charge and not energy. Nevertheless, I can legitimately envision a student spending several minutes trying to wrap their minds around what is (erroneously) provided in the problem (trying to relate the energy of the rod to the E-field). I should hope the professor noted the mistake (although the mistake has also not been corrected by other readers in this forum so far), and clarified the problem in front of the class before the exam commenced.

If the other problems from the test or homework were in a similar vein, no wonder the class average was so low.

He didn't make any correction, but to the teacher's defense he speaks very poor english. Even in the mid-term exam he used the word energy in a context where it was obvious that he meant charge (I don't remember the exact question, but it was about the amount of energy stored by a capacitor).

He is over 80 years old and has been teaching in the department for

Other than that, his homework question often contain mistakes. I have posted a topic here asking for help on a homework question and the consensus was that not enough information was provided. It was never corrected.

Here's an example of an example question he gave us. I went through it many times and I'm convinced there's a mistake in the solution. I always come up with 5.34 Ohms ans the answer. Maybe I'm wrong?

dSJyh43.jpg
 

Attachments

  • dSJyh43.jpg
    dSJyh43.jpg
    60.6 KB · Views: 514
  • #45
his equations are correct. his calculation of x is wrong by a sign should be + 0.604. Then I get the same answer you got
 
  • #46
To @LuigiAM ,

I see that you are a student at Concordia University, in Quebec, Canada. I'm surprised that you are a student in your (I presume second) year, and you and your fellow students have gone this far without ever seeing an integral. In Quebec, shouldn't you have been exposed to calculus (and integration) in CEGEP? (I've written a post about this elsewhere, but in Quebec, before students can enter university, they must complete select courses at CEGEP -- basically something like a community college -- for 2 years).

Students I know from Quebec who have subsequently came over to study at universities in Ontario (where I live) have done so. So I can understand why your professor would have been shocked they have never seen integration before.
 
  • #47
This is coming from an fourth year electrical engineering student in California, so take this as you will.
A couple things have been mentioned that I wholeheartedly agree with. For example: reading the textbook, working examples, forming study groups, going to office hours, and using online resources.

Approaching the school about the professor may be helpful in cases of professor misconduct. However, bad teaching practices are, at least in my experience, left to be evaluated during a regularly scheduled review. If they don't catch it in the review, they probably won't respond to it coming from a student who is just unhappy with the professor. Your school may be completely different though.

There is one thing that I haven't seen mentioned already. Sorry if someone has already said it.

I've found that a good portion of the terrible lecturers that I've had are actually not that bad at explaining the more general concepts. They just tend to gloss over them in lecture. I don't know if it's because they are excited about the cool math stuff they get to do, or they expect you to have already read and understood the book (sounds like your professor). Regardless of the reason, you end up with very math heavy lecture and a lack of communication of general concepts. What I have found to be helpful in these situations is to ask good questions during lecture.

First, it's very unlikely that you are the only student with questions. I don't know about your class size, but I've had classes ranging from a couple hundred down to just fifteen students. I have never been in a class with a bad professor where everyone except me understands what's happening. Asking questions can open a dialogue between the professor and the students that will likely uncover what concepts people are missing. You may ask the first question, but you probably won't be the only one.

Second, many professors enjoy an actively engaged class. I have had professors that previous classes have told horror stories about. One such professor was known for having terrible lectures and being a very difficult grader. When a group of us students started asking good questions; his lectures drastically improved and he even gave some extra credit, something he himself said he never did. This may not be true for all professors and schools, and extra credit is a very rare gift; but it remains true that someone teaching really likes to know that their students want to learn.

Third, not all questions are good questions for lectures. Homework questions are for office hours; that's a main reason why they have office hours for students. Only ask questions about the topic the professor is going over. Stopping class to ask about previous lectures is only going to make it seem like you weren't paying attention. If you want to know about previous lectures, use office hours or other resources.

Here are three guidelines I use for asking questions during lectures.

1. If you know you don't understand something, ask the professor about that particular thing. Ask about general concepts but be specific.

2. If you think you understand something, restate it in different words and ask if you are correct.

3. If the professor doesn't answer the question well; rephrase their answer and ask if you are correct.

These can be used in any order, by any number of students. If someone else says they don't understand something, and the professor doesn't give a good answer, don't place all the burden on that one student. Even if you understand it, rephrase and ask for clarification. This process also helps with developing study groups because you are engaging in conversation with other students who also want to learn. This doesn't work if you don't study as well.
Use those other resources. Read that book!

I could be totally wrong and I'm sure someone will tell me if I am. But this has really helped me deal with difficult professors. Your school may be completely different and you're professor may hate being interrupted. Just raise your hand and give it a try. If you get yelled at, then you might want to take that up with the school.
 
  • #48
fjmayerson said:
Only ask questions about the topic the professor is going over. Stopping class to ask about previous lectures is only going to make it seem like you weren't paying attention.
Not necessarily. You could say something like this: "In the lecture yesterday, you were talking about <some topic>. I thought I understood it at the time, but after thinking about it last night, I realized that I didn't understand. Does what you said mean <what you think it means>?
I agree you shouldn't ask a question from several weeks ago. Also, if the professor invites questions about the homework, those questions are fair game.
 
  • #49
Mark44 said:
Not necessarily. You could say something like this: "In the lecture yesterday, you were talking about <some topic>. I thought I understood it at the time, but after thinking about it last night, I realized that I didn't understand. Does what you said mean <what you think it means>?
I agree you shouldn't ask a question from several weeks ago. Also, if the professor invites questions about the homework, those questions are fair game.
I totally agree. I think the key point is not to try and play catch-up during lecture.
 
  • #50
StatGuy2000 said:
To @LuigiAM ,

I see that you are a student at Concordia University, in Quebec, Canada. I'm surprised that you are a student in your (I presume second) year, and you and your fellow students have gone this far without ever seeing an integral. In Quebec, shouldn't you have been exposed to calculus (and integration) in CEGEP? (I've written a post about this elsewhere, but in Quebec, before students can enter university, they must complete select courses at CEGEP -- basically something like a community college -- for 2 years).

Students I know from Quebec who have subsequently came over to study at universities in Ontario (where I live) have done so. So I can understand why your professor would have been shocked they have never seen integration before.

Mechanics and Electricity & Engineering are both Cegep-level courses here. The same is true for differential and integral calculus.

However, universities in Quebec offer those same classes to students who didn't do them while they were in Cegep, which is the case for those who did social sciences in cegep where there is more focus on stuff like philosophy, sociology, etc.

So, the students in my class either did not take the courses in Cegep, or they took them as mature students. Many universities require students who took cegep-level courses as mature students to re-take those same courses in university.
 
  • #51
They're really going up in arms in the class's facebook group right now. Some are saying that they checked their exam booklet and the teacher forgot to count the score of several pages when he was adding up the marks. Maybe that would explain the ridiculously low average. I checked mine and the count is correct.
 
  • #52
LuigiAM said:
They're really going up in arms in the class's facebook group right now. Some are saying that they checked their exam booklet and the teacher forgot to count the score of several pages when he was adding up the marks. Maybe that would explain the ridiculously low average. I checked mine and the count is correct.
I was once regrading an exam on which the students had to answer 5 out of 6 questions. The student had attempted six questions and completely flubbed one. That was the one the other grader had counted toward the total. The grader had completely ignored the correctly answered final question. I counted it towards the total.
 
  • #53
There's no reason to get "up in arms" about an error in summing the marks. You just bring the exam back to the professor, point out the mistake and request that the grade be re-evaluated.
 
  • #54
Choppy said:
There's no reason to get "up in arms" about an error in summing the marks. You just bring the exam back to the professor, point out the mistake and request that the grade be re-evaluated.

Agreed lol.

On my end I think I'm just going to hire a tutor for the rest of the semester.
 
  • #55
I'm sure much ridicule will follow, but my experience is that a "bad instruction" is not an excuse for failure. A student with initiative who really wants to learn any material and realizes "Good God, this instructor sucks...or this textbook is useless..." will do what it takes to get the information they need. Both claims may be true however, those claims don't relieve a student from learning and understanding the material at sufficient levels of understanding. My point is this, once the student graduates and begins to represent themselves as a "B.S. of XXXX engineering" (or other discipline), your perspective employers will assume you have the basic understanding of the materials associated with that level of college achievement. They are not going to care one bit about textbook issues, bad instructors or anything else related to YOUR inadequacies. If you don't meet the minimum requirements of the level of education you are presenting to them then you will simply be removed from the job. You can either do the job or not... it's just that simple and that becomes evident in the first 2 months of employment. This is why many, many engineering firms have a 2 or 3 month probation period to see if you have what it takes or just "got passed along by the college" so they can get their funds from the government based on the student quota they need to "push thru".
If your professor "sucks", find a way past him. If the textbook "sucks", find another one. If your still having issues, this forum can help some, youtube can help some, "Art of Problem Solving" can help some. Almost all colleges/ universities offer tutoring. The bottom line is there is no real excuse for academic failure particularly in today's society. There's plenty of resources available to achieve what you want to achieve. If something doesn't work for you then try another way. If all your instructors suck, find another college. It's totally up to you. I'm trying to push you to become dependent on yourself in achieving your academic goals. I believe you can do it, simply because you showed a minimum amount of initiative by starting this thread. YOU do what it takes. On one hand, the college may hand you a degree with no effort on your part, but be assured, employers will not simply hand you a paycheck without commensurate effort on your part.
 
  • Like
Likes Marc Rindermann and Dr. Courtney
  • #56
LuigiAM said:
Agreed lol.

On my end I think I'm just going to hire a tutor for the rest of the semester.
The Lab component will help for the intuitive side for sure. Physics was born of natural, observable things that often can be reinforced with labwork and/or lab demonstrations.
 
  • #57
Vector1962 said:
I'm sure much ridicule will follow, but my experience is that a "bad instruction" is not an excuse for failure. A student with initiative who really wants to learn any material and realizes "Good God, this instructor sucks...or this textbook is useless..." will do what it takes to get the information they need. Both claims may be true however, those claims don't relieve a student from learning and understanding the material at sufficient levels of understanding. My point is this, once the student graduates and begins to represent themselves as a "B.S. of XXXX engineering" (or other discipline), your perspective employers will assume you have the basic understanding of the materials associated with that level of college achievement. They are not going to care one bit about textbook issues, bad instructors or anything else related to YOUR inadequacies. If you don't meet the minimum requirements of the level of education you are presenting to them then you will simply be removed from the job. You can either do the job or not... it's just that simple and that becomes evident in the first 2 months of employment. This is why many, many engineering firms have a 2 or 3 month probation period to see if you have what it takes or just "got passed along by the college" so they can get their funds from the government based on the student quota they need to "push thru".
If your professor "sucks", find a way past him. If the textbook "sucks", find another one. If your still having issues, this forum can help some, youtube can help some, "Art of Problem Solving" can help some. Almost all colleges/ universities offer tutoring. The bottom line is there is no real excuse for academic failure particularly in today's society. There's plenty of resources available to achieve what you want to achieve. If something doesn't work for you then try another way. If all your instructors suck, find another college. It's totally up to you. I'm trying to push you to become dependent on yourself in achieving your academic goals. I believe you can do it, simply because you showed a minimum amount of initiative by starting this thread. YOU do what it takes. On one hand, the college may hand you a degree with no effort on your part, but be assured, employers will not simply hand you a paycheck without commensurate effort on your part.

I guess it depends from what point of view you see things.

Obviously there's always a way to get through a class even if the material and teaching is sub-par. No question about that.

At the same time though, bad teaching does exist (though perhaps not as often as some students may claim) and we shouldn't turn a blind eye to it (because if we do, then it's not fair for the good teachers). I understand that a student complaining about a teacher is kind of a boy cried wolf type of situation, but if you remember in the boy cried wolf story at the end there really was a wolf.
 

Similar threads

Replies
10
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
19
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
483
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
22
Views
2K
Replies
8
Views
410
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
45
Views
4K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
29
Views
860
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
14
Views
3K
Back
Top