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Follow syllabus or not?

  1. Jun 20, 2010 #1
    My lecturer has given us a learning outcomes list for the first year introductory Quantum Physics course and it has only 16 points!!! I am surprised that we have to know so little, because the book (Young and Freedman) covers the material in at least three chapters with lots of key points.

    For instance, the syllabus states that we "have to know the Planck equation and the de Broglie equation" and "be aware of the evidence from diffraction experiments that particles such as electrons, neutrons and He atoms can behave like waves satisfying the Planck and de Broglie equation."

    I am surprised that we just have to know the Planck and de Broglie equation and just be aware of the exp evidence in favour of......... I am surprised that we don't have to know that de Broglie made the proposal he did or accounts of the electron diffraction experiments of Davisson and Germer. The lecture notes cover all these material in much more detail. Why do the lecture notes have that much inf if I don't have to know all of it. I understand that illustrations are given to help us understand the detail, but why include details of experiments we don't have to know.

    So, I am a bit afraid to follow the syllabus. There are only eight past exam papers(not many). So it's going to be difficult to understand what questions the lecturer likes to set in the exam. And what if he sets a question that's not directly in the syllabus and but has a relation to a point in the syllabus? Then (asumming I have only remember the points in the syllabus), I am not going to get 100%.

    So, I am trying to note down all the details. Physics for me has become not only a subject of topics that I have to understand well but also memorise (with pain). This makes studying very dull for me.

    And whenever I try to get the past this trap, I remember that saying that you have to learn to understand the subject (IN DETAIL, of course), not just to pass the exam. So, I fall into my old ways.

    I think that I can cover all my course material in much less time (like in high school) and still get a very high score had I not been afraid of exams. Am I taking things too seriously?? Am I being too cautious, and taking things too hard?? Or is it otherwise??Please help!!
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2010 #2
    Because it helps solidify the information... People aren't robots, you can't just give them a lot of equations and guidelines and expect them to do well, in order for them to learn you have to give the material life so that they can get a feel for it.
    Then you have to derive the answer yourself, you don't know the point of the syllabus well enough if you can't answer most of the questions on a test based on that syllabus. Knowing an equation do not mean that you just remember how it looks, but that you know how to apply it in most situations as well.
  4. Jun 20, 2010 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Also, a syllabus that had every single fact you needed to know it it would be called a "textbook". Instead, it's more like an outline.
  5. Jun 20, 2010 #4
    Follow your lecturer's advice! If he's giving you useful tips like this then he's one of the good guys. If it's turning into a painful memory exercise then you are trying to learn too much detail. Why should you learn that de Broglie made the proposal he did? It's not a history course. Why should you study detailed accounts of the electron diffraction experiments of Davisson and Germer, unless you are going to perform the experiment itself?

    The lecturer is probably mentioning these things because he's passionately interested in the history and/or experimental details. He's also a kind man because, he tells you that you don't need to memorise them! Just try and follow what he's saying in the lectures. Then you'll at lest have a feel for the history and details of experiments, and can go back to explore those areas in your future life of scholarship/experimentation - if you need to.

    He's giving you "too much detail" (if he is a good guy!) to give you a deeper insight into his passions - so concentrate as much on his demeanour & tone. Ask yourself why why is he so interested? What is he really interested in? That should make lectures more interesting - try and plug into his passion for the subject and see if you can get some of it for yourself, instead of going through inane memory exercises.
  6. Jun 20, 2010 #5
    Some professors don't give out a syllabus or a list of learning outcomes. For their courses, I try to memorise everything they put in their lecture notes. (I don't know the learning outcomes, so what else can I do?) In one year, a professor asked us to derive a particular formula. While reading through the notes, I thought that was a minor point, but it came up in the exam. Also, in my maths exam (I am a physics student), I learned only how to solve problems. And in one year, there was a question abt the derivation of a particular formula which I did not study.

    I get these random questions only once every four to five years, but still those could have been in my exam paper.

    How do I handle that? How do I know what I have to know and what I don't?

    Or do I have to decide for the points by myself. I have tried that, but more than often, I cram in as many points as I can into my notes from the textbook. Thus it becomes a painful memory exercise rather than learning for pleasure.

    Any suggestions for the best way to tackle this problem??
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