1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Professor teaching Math with no book assigned to the course

  1. Apr 13, 2013 #1
    Just wondering what anyone else thinks about one of the physics professor's at my university teaching a mathematical methods course strictly from notes. He did not assign a textbook.

    Most of the material I have not seen before. Is this common? This course was restructured halfway through the school year, and the professor has admitted to writing the notes the night before class. I can't help feeling shorthanded. There is no suggested reading material AT ALL. Am I wrong to think he cannot possibly communicate everything he should be communicating through his lecture notes thrown together at the last minute????

    Please let me know if you have any thoughts about this...
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2013 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Apr 13, 2013 #3
    Thanks!!! One of my professor's has mentioned her before...
  5. Apr 13, 2013 #4
    It's not uncommon to teach from lecture notes, it's more uncommon to not list any supplementary texts. You can always just ask your instructor what it recommends.
  6. Apr 13, 2013 #5
    In my experience it's very common to teach from notes. Out of all my math classes, only the two semesters of statistics I took were taught from a textbook, and the instructor's notes were different from the textbook (a good thing in this case). The syllabus for each class I have taken did have a list of suggested references, though. I really like it when professors teach from their own notes; it really helps especially when you read the course textbook.
  7. Apr 13, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This is common. The best courses I took were based on professors notes and not on texts - both in undergrad and grad school (EDIT: come to thing of it, I can think of NO graduate course I took that was strongly based on a book...). It is unusual to not recommend books that are worth looking at, or to not put books on reserve in the library. But my hunch is that you are actually getting a course that the professor has actually thought through and hopefully not thrown together at the last minute. It would be much easier for her/him to simply pick a book and march through it.

    Check out your library to look at math methods books. If you find one you think could help, check it out. Also, used copies of old editions of many math methods books can be found online (places like amazon) for cheap. Finally, there are some free books online. Here is one by Prof. Nearing at Miami:
    the www.e-booksdirectory.com site has MANY books.

  8. Apr 13, 2013 #7
    Interesting! OK, I will try to embrace a different teaching style than I am used to, and check out the library... Thanks for your thoughts guys!
  9. Apr 14, 2013 #8
    Isnt this supposed to be the case all the time unless you are throttling down to maximize your GPA?
  10. Apr 14, 2013 #9
    I am just surprised that a professor would think it was a good idea to limit our information on a new topic.
  11. Apr 14, 2013 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Is he forbidding you from reading anything else? :eek:
  12. Apr 14, 2013 #11


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The professor's notes are surely based on notes by the professor teaching the course before him. It's not mandatory for him to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, of course. Each lecturer must/should have the decency of bringing some novelty into his classes, if not in course content, then perhaps in presentation (to include an important proof for example).

    But simply not providing a bibliography to his course is not tragic. His intention is that his students do not get distracted from his material by reading things they may not need.

    Fortunately, you have PF to ask about supplimentary reading.
  13. Apr 14, 2013 #12
    And nothing prevents you from going to your professor and asking for some supplementary reading.
  14. Apr 14, 2013 #13
    I already asked, and he did not provide any information other than to say just use your old physics books. I did buy a mathematical methods book that I thought would be good, but so far it is not much help. I should have asked PF first! The library carries the Mary Boas book jtbell mentioned earlier, which I plan to check out. Thanks for the advice
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook