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Physics 1 with Calculus Advice

  1. Nov 18, 2012 #1

    I would like to give a little background information, I'm an older than average student who has been working toward earning a degree in mechanical engineering (BSME). Attending the local community college has been a long and arduous task, a mix of full-time and part-time for the better part of three years now, but I apply to my four year school at the end of this term.

    I was excited to be taking physics this semester, it is a subject I have had an interest in for some time now; however, by the time I had taken my first exam I could see a pattern in my instructor that soured my taste for this class. My professor while being a nice guy and having a passion for physics is just not the strongest instructor in my opinion.
    Here are some of my examples:

    -The content of his exams and the content of the homework do not even come close to coinciding. I have taken three of his exams now, and the homework while from the same sections of the book as the exam, using the homework to prep for the exam is no help.

    -The problems he selects for the homework are not the basis for the examples used in his lectures. The problems he selects are way more challenging than any lecture example or exam question. The majority of the class copies the homework from the solutions manual and turns the copied work in.

    -His grades are inflated, my lab partner can not convert centimeters to meters, yet he is passing the course. I have a low A to high B, and I feel my understanding is a mid C at best.

    -His lack of any organizational skills, we are constantly behind schedule. This results in rushing through some topics as soon as an exam is approaching, changing due dates of assignments, and over all chaotic feel to the course.

    -The way he presents the math in the classroom, he rarely uses calculus, and fills endless whiteboards with derived calculations that added no depth of understanding at all. I like math and calculus, but I hate filling an entire sheet of paper with numbers just for the sake of doing so. I have taken some of the material to my Calc 2 instructor just to gain some clarity and it has helped.

    I feel like approaching him about my opinion / concerns about his class, but I do not want to be out of line. Currently, I watch the MIT open course videos and use Kahn Academy to help me get through the course now. However, my goal when I started this course was not to just get through it and move on it was, to better my understanding of physics. I would welcome some advice on what to do to get the most from this class, I'm afraid that I will find myself unprepared for statics and dynamics let alone any 3000 or 4000 level course.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2012 #2
    One thing you must learn in college is not to rely on your teacher too much. Even in the best college, there will be teachers which are too easy or not understandable or just bad. You need to take your education into your own hands. Don't rely on your homework or lectures to understand the material.

    Take a physics book yourself and work through it. Solve various exercises (including the very hard ones). That is the only way to learn.

    When I look back at my own university experience, I can see that there were a lot of people who graduated and who didn't know the material at all. The people who knew the material very well, were exactly the people who took their education into their hands and who didn't rely too much on their courses.
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