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Declining standards in textbooks.

  1. Dec 9, 2006 #1
    has anyone else noticed this trend? It seems like every new edition that comes out has been dumbed down more than the last one, and expects less from the reader. I noticed this in the thread on haliday and resnick, the older editions are spoken og in high regard, while practically every person who is stuck with the new "fundamentals of physics" thinks that it is overly simplified. And agian in the thread on mechanics testbooks, apparently the "bible" of intermediate texts has been ruined in a recent edition.

    I know that alo of undergrad programs just pick up the latet edition of whatever book they've been using for the past 20 years so could this trend cause an overall dumbing down of physics curriculuums?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2006 #2
    What mechanics book are we talking about?

    One thing that needs to be made clear about H&R is that Physics and Fundamentals of Physics have always been different books meant to address different audiences, with Fundamentals the simplified text. It would be more fair to compare editions of Physics or editions of Fundamentals.

    It does seem to me that texts from the 60s seemed to expect a more sophisticated reader. Whether their readers were actually more sophisticated is another question. If books are including more remedial material, perhaps it's because they are actually trying to address the deficiencies students actually have.
  4. Dec 9, 2006 #3
    oh sorry I wa reffering to the newer edition of thronton ad marion, in the thread on "a better mechanics book" a couple of very bad amazon reviews of it are referenced.

    I didn't realise that the fundamentals of physics and "physics" were two entirely seperate texts, I was under the impresion that the fundamentals was just the newer iteration of physics

    Edit: the main problem that I have with the fundamentals is the problems that the book uses. After searching through all of the thermodynamics/waves/optics sections I found a grand total of 4 problems that were anything more than number crunching.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2006
  5. Dec 18, 2006 #4


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    the point is still valid if "fundamentals" is a version that did not exist until some decades after "physics".
  6. Dec 22, 2006 #5
    I think the entire problem is that students complain (and rightly so) about texts, from not being well-written to not having enough examples. The authors inability to explain things clearly leads to them trying to "dumb" things down a bit. I often look at texts and think, I could write this so much more clearly.
  7. Dec 22, 2006 #6
    Goldstein and Jackson haven't felt dumbed down at all....

    The book we used in ph101 this year I thought was very good - lots of examples, well written text, etc. Whether it is dumbed down or not I am not sure, but I am sure of this - it doesn't matter. Less than one in every twenty students in the class actually read it. I got onto them as much as I could, but by the end of the course they weren't even bringing it to class.

    To be honest, I'd be more inclined to wonder about the students than the book...
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