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Teaching myself physics from Halliday/Resnick

  1. Nov 3, 2008 #1
    I've been teaching myself physics from Halliday/Resnick for a while now, and
    was wondering how long on average students spend on each chapter when being
    taught at an institution? And with between 100-140 questions at the end of each
    chapter, many of which can take 20-30 minutes to complete, I assume instructors
    would only assign a percentage of these to be completed?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2008 #2


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    We're using Halliday/Resnick in my current 2-semester physics sequence. For the second semester, we're covering 18 chapters in about 13 weeks, with 5 hours of class time per week. I don't recall the exact details about the first semester, but I believe it was about the same.

    As for the exercises, we're usually assigned all of the exercises from the "questions" section, and 20-40 representative exercises from the "problems" section.

    In case it makes any difference, this is at a community college.
  4. Nov 3, 2008 #3
    Thanks Bill! That sounds rather rushed, but then I can do it at my own
    pace. Do many of the students struggle getting that much work done
    in that timeframe?
  5. Nov 3, 2008 #4


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    I know I struggle with the load sometimes, but then again, I have a full-time job and other classes. I usually have to play catch-up with the homework on the weekends.

    As for the rest of the class, I don't really know. But considering that the test averages are usually on the low-side, my guess is that they're not keeping up either. :uhh:
  6. Nov 4, 2008 #5
    As for pace, our class was using Knight, although i found it didnt cover electromagnetism very well so decided to do study by myself using Halliday aswell. In My class we covered Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism and intro Quantum/Nuclear within 12 weeks. I guess students struggled to keep up, i had to over the weekends (although i dont get much time out of uni to study during the week).

    As far as excercises/questions, our lecturers suggested a certain amount (im not sure how many i just worked through most of them) but they certainly didnt expect everyone to do all of the questions.

    Just curious, why do you want to know? Like you said, you can go at any pace you wish...
  7. Nov 4, 2008 #6
    I'd heard that people were doing a lot of chapters in only three months, and couldn't
    see how they could learn the material thoroughly in that timeframe without being physics
    geniuses. As both you and Bill have pointed out, apparently people AREN'T learning the
    material thoroughly in that timeframe. Now at least I know I'm not a dunce for taking longer
    than that :) Anyway, I want to do it in a reasonable time, as I'm planning to go on and
    do something like Bioinformatics later.
  8. Nov 4, 2008 #7
    My two introductory physics courses used Halliday/Resnick and went at an obscene pace. I got A's, but a good portion of Physics II was just regurgitation and not understanding.

    I'm still reviewing the material...
  9. Nov 4, 2008 #8


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    My physics course in high school covered the whole book in 2 academic years, with the average student doing around 50% of the problems.
  10. Nov 4, 2008 #9
    depending on how disciplined you are, teaching yourself a subject like physics my prove to be difficult after a while. You do not have the chance to discuss problems with students or professors. Also, you do not have the pressure to learn it. If you do not learn something in class that piece of missing information can come back to haunt you later. But if you are teaching yourself something and miss information that is important, you can just say "oh well" and move on because you have nothing to worry about. But im assuming that you are motivated and disciplined. I was just comparing the teaching yourself method to those of actually taking the class.
  11. Nov 4, 2008 #10
    You did Halliday in high school? I'm assuming thats unusual? (An advanced course I suppose?)

    So of those who've done Halliday, what do you think would be a good pace to learn
    it at then? And would it be a good idea to learn calculus thoroughly first? (I'm upgrading
    my calculus skills concurrently with teaching myself physics.)

    Re the motivation factor, I think it might kill my motivation to rush through say 18 chapters in 13 weeks, knowing that I was only learning the material in a shallow way, which would
    surely have ramifications later on when learning more advanced material. I'd be interested to know if many people drop out discouraged from these courses?
  12. Nov 5, 2008 #11


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    I'm not sure how it is in America, but I think it's equivalent to "AP Physics C". It's a calculus based course mainly covering mechanics, electrodynamics, optics and thermodynamics.
  13. Nov 5, 2008 #12
    Get your Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus I, Calculus II, and Multivariate Calculus down first if you can. I've been waiting to get into Flux Integrals so I can really understand the E&M sections - almost there, with my Multivariate Class coming towards the end.
  14. Nov 6, 2008 #13
    Like spoon, my course uses Knight but I used HRW extensively. It's a good book. With my course, it was very relaxed and lots didn't do much work at all. There were about 20 recommended questions by the lecturer for each chapter.

    Personally, I'd say study smart. Do questions that are very different from one another and once you've understood something, move on. There just isn't time to do every question. There's so much more out there to learn and after the first two dozen or so, you get diminishing returns. After all, you'll be studying it all again in much more detail later on. Just make sure you understand the main concepts very well. (Since you don't have to even take exams on it yet, don't rote learn at all - it spoils the experience.) Also, make sure your Newtonian mechanics and other very basic chapters because it's probably the only thing that won't be covered in the more advanced courses. Lots of Lagrangian, Hamiltonian and tensor formulations to replace that.

    The maths is a piece of cake except for one or two integrations in the e/m section. I don't know about the US system but for 80% of the book, my high school maths was enough. The rest was covered in the second course of calculus - basic flux integrals. (Well, actually, the course that covered it was lousy and I had to do lots of self study but that's irrelevant)
  15. Nov 6, 2008 #14
    Agree with physicalanomaly 100% on all of that.
  16. Nov 6, 2008 #15


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    That's the least of the problems - that's what PF is for.
  17. Nov 10, 2008 #16
    In my introductory physics course last year, we spent 1 week (3 hours) on each chapter in general; for some less useful topics they were covered in 1 lecture(1.5 hr) only.
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