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Sub-categories in the introductory physics section HW forum?

  1. Dec 27, 2006 #1
    I think in the homework help forum, the introductory physics section must have sub-categories with the subject of the problem. Did you already discuss this idea?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2006 #2

    Moonbear

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    Are there too many questions now that it would require this?

    The main concern I'd have of too many subcategories is that students already have enough trouble identifying if they should post in introductory or advanced physics, so I'd worry that they would only get more confused if they had to choose a subcategory, especially if they are already struggling with their assignments. What sort of subcategories did you have in mind?
     
  4. Dec 27, 2006 #3
    Because the help given by the homework helpers should be used for other people who search the forum looking for a problem similar to the one they have difficulties with. The title of the post is not always very clear.

    The sub-categories should be, for exemple, mechanics: kinematics, linear momentum, simple harmonic motion...
     
  5. Dec 27, 2006 #4

    ranger

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    I agree with your reason for wanting to organize into various sections. But I doubt anyone bothers to use the search function. Some people just sign up to ask one question and they dont even sometimes put it in the right forum. So I doubt they would even browse the subforums if they were to be implemented.
     
  6. Dec 27, 2006 #5

    Moonbear

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    I pretty much agree with ranger's comments on this. And, I also doubt that those who don't put the effort into a useful title will put the effort into finding the right subforum either. :rolleyes:

    Hopefully with the recently added template for homework posts, more information will be in the questions to bring up related questions if someone were to search for them. I mean, I like the idea of searching for related questions to help a student understand the one they are trying to solve, I'm just not sure how easy that would be even with subforums, because there would quickly be far too many to sort through anyway.

    Ideally, the tutorials were intended to help address some of those more common types of questions, instead of having to search through old homework questions. I haven't heard much feedback on whether they are turning out to be helpful though, or serving that function.
     
  7. Dec 27, 2006 #6

    Moonbear

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    :devil: This message will self-destruct in....3...2.... :rofl:
     
  8. Dec 28, 2006 #7
    Just "define" Introductory and Advanced in a no-nonsense manner.
    Subtitles like Upper level undergraduate physics can be ambiguous sometimes.

    Intro: " Newtonian Mechanics, intro-optics/E&M..." is probably more apt.

    Adv: Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mech, EM, Modern Physics, QM and Beyond...

    (That's just an example, the mentors can refine it:tongue2: )
     
  9. Dec 30, 2006 #8

    Moonbear

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    I wish it were that easy. The problem with adding descriptors like that is 1) we're likely to leave something out, and then get the feedback threads asking, "We need to add a forum for..." 2) General physics textbooks DO have chapters with titles like "Modern Physics," but only address them in the most cursory manner (when "General" courses are essentially surveys of the field to introduce students to what they will go into depth on in more advanced courses), which lead students to think they should post questions on those topics in those sections.

    We actually had a lot of discussion among the mentors when trying to decide the best way to label those sections. We finally decided it's just easier to move posts to the appropriate place than to expect all students to know whether they are "advanced" or not. Trying to accomodate an international community and the various educational systems and teaching philosophies that go into setting curricula within each of these systems makes it even harder to really nail down which courses one is taking as "introductory" material, and which are more "advanced." There is always a gray area, and we just don't worry about that so much.

    Just by way of background on how we got to the current structure of that forum, our primary reason for separating out the homework sections really was to control the volume of posts so that homework questions didn't scroll past the first page too quickly before receiving help. There's almost always someone around who can help with the introductory topics, but the more advanced questions, or questions on subjects other than math and physics, were winding up on page 3 before anyone qualified to help would get around to checking out the HW questions, and we recognized that most people don't look past page 1, and maybe page 2, when viewing a forum, especially when just skimming for questions they can help with. So, we split up the HW help forums so that people with more specialized knowledge could more quickly locate questions waiting for help, and so the chemistry, biology or engineering questions didn't get completely lost while waiting for the relatively fewer members who could help with those to look for them.
     
  10. Dec 30, 2006 #9

    Gokul43201

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    Being specific with descriptors carries the following drawbacks:

    1. It can never be complete,
    2. It takes up too much space if it's going to be anywhere near complete,
    3. There are many people (not a majority) that will be baffled by the descriptors rather than aided by it.

    MB, you're quite the spelling nazi, aren't you?
     
  11. Dec 30, 2006 #10

    Moonbear

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    :uhh: Where did that come from? What did I mangle now? :rolleyes:
     
  12. Dec 30, 2006 #11

    Gokul43201

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    Oh, my guess was off then. I thought there was a typo in the thread title that righted itself just around the time of your last post.
     
  13. Dec 30, 2006 #12

    Moonbear

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    Nope, if there was, it wasn't me that fixed it. I only fix typos for other people if they ask nicely with chocolate. :biggrin:
     
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