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Information on lecture notes

  1. Jul 30, 2010 #1
    I have attached a lecture note which is meant to provide understanding on the following learning outcomes.

    • appreciate the distinction between the macroscopic and microscopic views of matter
    • understand the main qualitative differences between solids liquids and gases at the microscopic level
    • be aware that atoms are in thermal motion
    • know what a mole is, and be able to use Avogadro‚Äôs number to relate the number of particles to the number of moles
    • understand how the form of the inter-atomic potential energy provides qualitative insights into phase changes and thermal expansion
    • know the meaning of the term latent heat

    My lecturer does write as much information as I need to know to understand/ remember the key points written above. But he also includes a lot of unnecesaary detail about Brownian motion, measurement of the Avogadro's number and the derivation of the value of the Boltzmann's constant.

    My question is: Why should he include these details when all those items only help to confuse the students and raises additional, unnecesary questions in their minds?

    When I first read the lecture note w/o having read the syllabus, I was trying to remember facts about Brownian motion and the the derivation of the value of the Boltzmann's constant, both of which are difficult to remember because those are mostly facts. There is nothing to understand about those things.

    If I had not looked at the syllabus, I would have tried to commit those things to memory. My question is : If a lecturer does not provide a syllabus, how do you know which bits are worth remembering , and which not? Also, would you bother trying to understand all those unnecesary facts if you don't get them the first time you read the lecture notes?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2010 #2


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    Assuming you're a university student, all of the examples you give seem to be directly relevant to understanding the teaching goals your lecturer has established.

    If you want to learn a subject on a surface level - getting told what you need to know for an exam, being given the equations and constants without an appreciation of where they come from so you can directly apply them in a working context - go to a community college.

    When you study a science, you need to understand how certain concepts are arrived at so that:
    - they are open to logical challenges and the students may think critically on the material rather than simply accept what's handed to them,
    - the student can integrate the information in a greater understanding of the material and then use it to solve problems not seen before
    - understand where approximations have been used and therefore where those approximations break down
    - understand reasons for certain conventions
    - draw on historical experience when the student eventually moves on to conduct his or her own conventions.
  4. Jul 30, 2010 #3
    Thank you very much! That was genuinely helpful.
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