PHYS208 Fundamentals of Physics II

Responses to request for format change for recitation

One of the recitation instructors emailed his students to see what the general sentiment was regarding the format of the recitation session, that is, whether it was widely held that class time was being wasted by waiting for an answer from the students. Here are the responses received over the past weekend (with very minor editing so that this does not turn into a flame fest):

  1. Even though I am not the best physics student and I am not always totally up to date with work and reading, I feel that the discussion classes are conducted in an appropriate way. I see no reason to change the present format for our discussion section. Granted, time is always at a short, but then again, what are office hours for; obviously, not all questions can be address in a 50 minutes class period. Hope I was helpful.

  2. I disagree with what he/she said completely. I like the way you solve problems and your web site really helps. Usually I'm missing a sign or a 2 or something minor, and it really helps. I know that when I do the reading and the problems, the discussion section means more. The only complaint that I have is when we have group assignments. Do you think we could ask questions before we get into groups and then have the remaining time for the group problem. Usually when we get into groups, we run out of time for all of the questions. Keep up the GREAT work!!!

  3. I feel that discussion sessions are very informative, especially the last three weeks. I think that we shouldn't spend as much time waiting to see who can do the problem, however, I do think the pause to see if anyone knows how to do the problem is necessary. School is a learning process. It should be a community effort, and I feel that the students should be given the chance to answer the problem. I applaud your efforts to do that. I feel that I learn alot in discussion. I like the layout (we ask you questions about problems we have on homework and you guide us in solving them) of discussion. Personally, I would like to see it stay the way it is.

  4. I agree for the most part with the person...

  5. I personally like the recitation section. It is a time in which we are able to ask questions and have them answered. Just because one [student...] complained, I don't think recitation should be changed. It is important that we learn how to solve problems by ourselves. The only way to truly learn is to strugle through the material and put a lot of time in to it. Eventually, one will learn the material and have confidence in themselves. DONT CHANGE A THING.

  6. I disagree with this message. I do think that disc. sessions aren't as efficient as they could be but I think that is the student's faults because nobody ever seems eager to ask questions. I know that you ask if anyone wants to solve the problems before you start to do it for us but you don't stick on it for "3 to 5 minutes". anyway I think that it is good when a student will go up and answer a question because they are at our level and usually explain it more simply.

  7. I disagree with the writer almost completely. It would help me if the discussions were longer!

  8. I think that the author of the letter is saying that problems that the TAs work out would be more beneficial if they were solved step-by-step including substituting in the given values to receive the given answers. Also, I think that if you ask once and no one seems to know or is willing to share the answer to a problem, then time should not be wasted on asking the question again. It is still a good idea to ask once though to offer us the chance to respond so we can get the extra points.

  9. In response to the complaint by the anonomous student: I am one of the "border line" students [s/he] is refering to, yet I have no problem with how you conduct your class. Maybe [s/he] should try taking notes.

  10. I agree that some of the class time is wasted while you're waiting for someone to answer. I think that the discussion time is useful though. For most of the problems you do a good job at explaining them. This is one of the few times I have a chance to ask for help on problems I don't know. Maybe if after a few seconds, someone hasn't answered, you could move on.

And from my online suggestion box:

  1. I understand! You will NOT spoon feed us, but you will buy the groceries!

  2. I like the direction of the class, recitation sections, and the labs; don't change a thing. You explained to us in the beginning that the class would take the "problem-based" approach, which is clearly the best way for us to thoroughly learn how to work the problems and the concepts behind the problems. Although it may take more time right now to do the problems, we will appreciate it in the future. We will already know the concepts, so it will just be a matter of dusting out the cobwebs and remembering the concepts. One can't expect to learn anything by watching recitation instructors regurgitate pre-worked problems on the board. To really understand the physics behind the problems, one must read the book, pay attention in class, and learn to work through the problems, no matter how frustrating they might seem to be. The only way to really learn is to spend a lot of time with the material, working problems over and over. Then, can one know the material. DON'T CHANGE THE CLASS!!!

  3. I think that the recitation class is fine... Today we discussed it in our class, and noone said that they disagreed with it. Maybe they were just shy, but... I think the idea of doing a problem, ask the TA questions, and if noone else has any more questions MOVE ON.

  4. I find what we do in recitation helpful. Sometimes it needs to move along a little faster so more can be covered. Sometimes a student will ask the first question in the section when it seems as if they have not even seriously attempted it. I do not know how that problem could be fixed. My discussion section has been especially helpful the past couple of weeks, in defense of my TA. One major concern is that I do not think we should spend time going over quiz solutions in recitation because the answers are already on line.


"http://www.physics.udel.edu/~watson/phys208/TA-comments.html"
Last updated Nov. 3, 1997.
Copyright George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 1997.