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Gen Physics Book for Right-Brained, Visual Learners?

  1. Jul 20, 2011 #1
    My screen name says it all, and I am desperate for help - trying to teach myself through this accelerated summer class is clearly not working with the materials & methods I have been using.

    Any suggestions for a Physics textbook, or supplementary book, alternate tutoring/learning methods for a predominantly right-brained, visual, global learner will be SO appreciated!

    My professor only lectures and works problems on the white board. While I appreciate his vast knowledge, that doesn't help me, as I am frantically scribbling down notes, barely hearing what he's currently saying, and not really able to look at the board at all to see the actual math that is going on. I've spoken to him about bringing in power points, but apparently that's not his thing.

    I have a ~3.7 gpa - but barely pulled a C- in Physics I, and need to redeem myself for Phys II. I am also Taking Chem I & II at the same time this summer, which, I know, I'm nuts for taking 4 math-heavy classes in 12 weeks - but if I can pull it off I will shave a whole YEAR off my grad date, which (now back in school in my 30's) is a HUGE savings in time & money!!

    Thanks again for any & all help :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2011 #2
    IMO all of the popular physics texts --- Serway, Young, Knight, Halliday --- have excellent illustrations.

    What jumps out at me from your post, though, is your not hearing and seeing the lecture material as you frantically try to write your notes.

    I think it's easy to see why you got a C-. NOBODY, except a real genius, can learn physics by that method.

    What you *should* be doing is reading the material BEFORE the class, from more than one of the above texts (and I always recommend you buy cheap older used editions, which are just as good as new ones) if that's what it takes for you to understand it. IMO anyone who has any business majoring in physics should be able to read and understand a freshman physics text, on his own, well enough to do the worked examples in the text.

    You should not use the lectures to learn the material from scratch. You should use them as an opportunity to ask about points that you still aren't sure about, or to see another approach to a formula's derivation, or to find out what points your prof thinks are the most important. If you have already read the material, you won't be afraid to ask about something that seems wrong. Maybe the prof made a mistake. Maybe he didn't, but either way, it can't hurt to have him remember you as someone who paid attention and asked intelligent questions, especially if you end up on the borderline between two grades.

    Yes, it will take several hours per lecture to prepare. That's why they say physics is hard. But if you're going to succeed in physics, you have to put that kind of time in, no matter what. The only question is whether you do it before or after the lectures.

    If you do it before the lectures, you will be able to use your holistic approach and enjoy the lecture, jotting down an occasional note. If you do it after the lectures, then you are pretty much wasting your time during the lecture, as you have found out.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  4. Jul 20, 2011 #3
    There are tons of video lectures in the learning materials section of this website.
    With these you can pause etc... Furthermore you should go online & download the
    slides (pdf, powerpoint etc...) that lecturers use during classes. Get a few different
    sources. Most likely virtually everything you're going to do in class you can get on
    the internet, you should prepare using video lectures, online notes & powerpoints of
    class slides from other colleges & then use the lectures as revision & time to ask the
    kinds of questions you would like answered.
  5. Jul 20, 2011 #4
    Thank you everyone for the positive, proactive pieces of information provided from all parties; however, the judgmental attitude from “brocks” was very unnecessary. Were it not for “sponsoredwalk”, I may have just deleted my profile here altogether.

    I had tried to make my initial mssg short and sweet, but apparently that made me look like a slacker. For the record, I am NOT majoring in physics. I have tried to read the material before class, but I am not working well with the book that is (disliked by my Prof, but) required by the college (Physics- James S. Walker), which is why I was asking if anyone out there who also learns material in the *same way I do* appreciated one author's *visual* rendition of the material over the other.

    I asked the Prof which book he prefers (Giancoli), and will prob pick up a version of that, however it did not receive as good a review as University Physics by Young/Freedman. I have watched other online videos/tutorials and have downloaded power points from other colleges, but it does not always sync up with what my professor emphasizes (or sometimes he uses totally different terminology altogether), which then serves only to confuse me, as I come in with one train of thought and then must switch to another, which I can handle in all subjects EXCEPT math.

    I am exhausted and frustrated, but trying to make the best of a very tough situation (Physics I/Chem I & Physics II/Chem II all in 12 weeks). I currently have a 3.7 in Chem II, I can fly through 1000+ page novels in days, can learn languages & have done very well in Psych, Soc, History & Bio sciences, I even used to be good at geometry (..when I took it back in 1989!). I’m not a genius, but I do try & bust my butt, because education is a gift & I have goals to achieve & life is too short & precious to waste. I know I can grasp this if I just found the means to make it click with me. I understand physics is hard, & I *know* I need to work harder ( hence why I am here on this site) .. but I want to work SMARTER, not just harder.

    Thank you again for all the positive assistance given. No need to reply further, this topic is closed.
  6. Jul 20, 2011 #5
    Well, I am sorry that you took my post as judgmental. I meant it to be helpful, and like you, I tried to make it concise, so it may have come off as more imperative than I intended.

    My basic point was that reading the book before the lectures, rather than after them, IS working smarter.

    Oh, I think I see what upset you --- the part about anybody majoring in physics should be able to understand a freshman text. Yeah, I could have put that better.

    If you look at my posts in other threads, you will see that my constant theme is that people should buy used (cheap) copies of as many different texts as it takes for them to understand the material (see, for example, the "Linear Algebra book" thread right below this one). I didn't mean there's something wrong with you if you don't understand it, I meant you need to find a text you DO understand. I am the world's foremost example of someone whose understanding depends to a very large extent on finding an author whose style I like.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  7. Jul 20, 2011 #6
    Thanks Brocks :)
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