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Worried about Physics!

  1. Aug 29, 2014 #1
    This is my first year physics course in a community college and i am taking " Calculus based Physics" and i am already stressed out even though the course has not even started yet. There is only one Teacher teaching it and his ratings on rate my professor are horrible he got a 2.4. I have talked to some students and they said that i have to put in a lot hours for this teacher. The last physics class i have ever taken was in a high school and i don't remember anything. Can you guys give me any tips on how to study for the class and has any body had a similar experience with a similar type of teacher and passed with an A.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2014 #2
    As long as the textbook is good and the teacher isn't trying to test beyond the text, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I find that a poor textbook is a far bigger problem than a poor teacher.
  4. Aug 29, 2014 #3


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    The beginning Calculus-based Physics course is hard, no matter who teaches it. Worrying is useless. Just study hard. Most students in this course do not want or like it, so you would expect any RateMyWhoeverTheyAre reviews will not be reliable, as well as being unfavorable.
  5. Aug 29, 2014 #4


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    I think you could have the best possible teacher ever, and you would still need to put in a lot of hours. Physics takes effort.

    It is my opinion that, in physics, you will be your own teacher; and your "real teacher" is just an aid to help you to help yourself.
    (This is my opinion for fundamental/basic physics. I cannot speak for advanced physics.)

    I second symbolipoint's post
  6. Aug 30, 2014 #5
    He would probably appreciate it if you visit him in office hours. Lecturing well is much harder to do than talking to people one on one. It might also help him to be a better teacher. I used to be afraid to go to office hours, but then, I took a class that was at 8:00, so I just about slept through every class, and the textbook was straight from the bowels of hell--worst one ever, so office hours were essentially the only option I had. I managed to pull out and make a reasonable recovery from my rocky start in the class, thanks to that. From then on, I made use of it a lot, and it was pretty helpful, partly because it helps develop relationships with the profs. I probably wouldn't have made it into grad school and stuff without it.
  7. Aug 30, 2014 #6
    How much different is Physics compared to math i already have taken calculus 1&2 and i am at three right now. Is it just practice the home work and read the book or is there more to it?
  8. Aug 30, 2014 #7
    Good point. At my university one the physics professors who was actually perhaps the best at teaching in the entire department and who got raves for any physics class above intro got hit with fairly mediocre looking marks when he taught intro. I think it's mostly just non-physics guys not used to how you can to go about physics and not being able to just memorize a list of terms and methods and pre-meds getting upsets if they don't get an A, etc. It's really hard to get a good read with those RateMyProf sites, most of them don't sample all of the class, just a non-random, self-selected set and with intros maybe the prof is just going above the heads of some, maybe some are complaining over nothing and it was a well presented and thought out course, maybe not, it's hard to get a good sense.
  9. Aug 30, 2014 #8
    I'd say that there is more of an emphasis on novel problem solving and applying logic and, especially compared to really intro math like a regular, non-honors, not all theoretical and proof-based intro calc class, less raw memorization of formulas and plug and go. Although at the county college and lower tier university levels, from what I've seen, for the tests, then tend to stick to just problems of the exact type that were well covered so it can be a bit closer to plug and play in a sense and, in some of those classes if maybe not all, so long as you can solve the most common simpler level home work problems and problems gone over in class you might actually be set (but that can also lead you to a slightly false set of confidence and make you over estimate just how deeply you really managed to get things down since you might have gotten away with plug and play memorizing a few basic problems for each test and as you maybe could ace those tests and yet if took a Physics GRE or class test at MIT do quite poorly).

    Physics tends to really train you how to think and problem solve.
  10. Aug 30, 2014 #9


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    I'm glad to hear this. Often students in intro-level physics struggle with math. If you're comfortable with algebra, trig, and geometry, then you'll be one of the lucky ones -- you only have to focus on physics.

    Disregard the reviews you've read about the prof. Make up your own mind.

    Many students don't study properly: they think it's all about reading the theory and/or watching lecture videos. But that's an ineffective use of your time. In physics, the focus is on problem solving. Spend most of your study time solving problems - and not just the ones the prof assigns. Be prepared to do lots of problems and you'll do fine.
  11. Aug 30, 2014 #10
    It only becomes more and more like that the more advanced the material, in my opinion. Eventually there will be no-one to directly help you and you have to figure it all out yourself using whatever materials you can find. It is probably a universal truth of education.
  12. Aug 31, 2014 #11


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    I believe a teacher or lecturer is there to facilitate your learning, most of what you learn comes from a textbook and working problems as others have said. I had quite a poor teacher for my introductory course on tensor calculus and relativity in the four vector formalism. I felt he was quite shy lecturing and he rarely looked up to the class. One of my peers commented that if everyone hung themselves in the class the lecturer would not know. However, what this lecturer did do was offer a lot of office hours when it came to revision. He said we could go to his office whenever we wanted, just knock. I always feel I am disturbing the professor when I go outside class so I would always send an email regardless. He was really friendly too.
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