PHYS208 Fundamentals of Physics II

Student Suggestions and Requests for Clarification

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My responses are italicized. I sometimes edit slightly, truncate, or abridge the submissions. Listed in reverse chronological order.
  1. Would we be able to get solutions to the exam online please? [5pm 12/15]

    Numerical answers are now available for the Interesting Final Exam Questions from the Past. Good luck on the exam tomorrow! [10 pm 12/15]

  2. What is the deal with the "Punkin' Chunkin' " question (i.e. when is it due; is it extra credit; do we have to work in our recitation groups)? [11/18]

    The fourth group exercise has been elevated to special project status. This project is being considered as extra credit; up to 5 points out of the final 100 points of the course grade will be assigned for a successful outcome of the project. (Please keep in perspective that this is equivalent to 25 points on any one of the exams.) These 5 possible points will be tagged onto the 10 point recitation score. I will be collecting these projects up to the last day of classes. I will be reading through the projects before the final exam and assigning the final score.

    Please bear in mind that I originally proposed this as a group project. So I will be gauging the project scores on a level of effort and outcome based appropriate to a group effort. You are free to submit an individual project, but I will be judging all projects on the same basis. You are also free to form your group differently from the group you were working with in recitation session if necessary. I will be putting together a project guide in a day or two...

  3. I know that you don't do the grades until the end of the semester, but is there any way we can figure out approximately how we are doing? [11/17]

    I'm tring to get an idea of what I need to get on the final to get a B- in phys 208. So basically all I need is a rough idea of the numerical grading scale. For semester grades, how many point out of 100 are needed to get a B? How about a B-? Or a C+ ? [11/18]

    Off the top of your head what do you think the cutoff for a C will be in 208? [11/19]

    I will be announcing projected grades early next week, probably distributing them in class on Wednesday. As you know I do not create an ab initio formula equating numerical scores to letter grades. However, I am willing to project a final numerical grade for you. This will be done by averaging the two midterm exam scores and weighting that to 60 points, effectively projecting a final exam score which is your midterm average to date and the same class average on the final as the midterm (hopefully many of will do better than your average performance to date!). In addition, the lab average to date is projected to 20 points, the best 8 quiz scores will be projected to 10 points, as well as the recitation score. From that I will predict the letter grade that you will receive; prior experience shows that most final grades will be within two +/- grade levels of my prediction. Hope that helps!

  4. Is our final cummulative, or will it concentrate mostly on the material covered between the second hourly exam and the final? [11/16]

    The final exam will be cumulative, but with an emphasis on the material following the second midterm exam.

  5. In response to the other student's thanks, I wanted to say the same. Just remember though, this is before the exam - we might not feel the same way in an hour. ;) [8:47am 11/14]

  6. A couple of us wanted to let you know that we are grateful for all the things you are doing to ensure that we do well in this course. Even though it may not seem like it, we do appreciate all the time you spend listening to our suggestions (or whinings), and making sure class readings, old exams, homework assignments AND their solutions are all posted. We do realize that this takes a lot of effort and we thank you. (and NO, we're not trying to butter you up for the exam!) [11/13]

    Since some of the recent suggestions have been a bit on the "demanding" side, I decided to post this note to be a little upbeat just before the exam. Not to encourage more of the same, but rather to acknowledge your gratitute for my efforts. On this next exam I hope that you will be able to demonstate a positive outcome of your own efforts over the past few weeks. Now back to writing a good exam... ;-) [late on 11/13]

  7. Are you going to post the formula sheet for the second exam??? [7am 11/12]

    The formula sheet for the second midterm is finished and available at the exam archive. [9pm 11/12]

  8. I understand that you are not going to post solutions to the old exams that are online. However, can you post more than just the "numerical answers"??? Is it possible for you to post answers to the "writing" part, with the short answers. This is usually the first part. It's usually just a few words to answer those questions...sometimes even ONE word (like "toward", "away from", "greater than", "clockwise"/"counterclockwise", etc...students who get the "numerial" part right can thus know if they can do EVERYTHING right! [11/10]

    At the exam archive you may now find the answers to the first page of the second midterm exams.

  9. While your teaching style incorporates several interesting facets, it is my belief that the class as a whole would benefit more from you spending more class time applying the laws, formulas, and concepts of the material to actual problems -- as opposed to deriving every piece of every formula from scratch. Obviously, the exams deal more with applying the material to problems and not to derivations, so perhaps class time would better prepare us for the exams when more problems are worked during it. [11/9]

    Now is a good time to raise this issue again! I will be spending a large part of the next two classes demonstrating applications of what we have investigated so far.

    Personally I am reluctant to use a formula whose origins I do no know; I would encourage you to develop the same attitude regarding formulas and the like. In addition, I want to know the connections that each formula and concept has to the concepts and formulas that I have already mastered. So my approach to presenting material in class is the same approach that I take in trying to learn new material.

    I certainly agree with you that mastery of the material involves working out applications to as many diverse situations as possible. We try to accomplish that through homework, laboratory and recitation exercises, as well as "learning opportunities" on the exams. But a little more in class won't hurt...

  10. Could you please check the hmwk. answers page, I just got into it and could only view the problems from Nov. 5 and 7. [11/9]

    I'm not sure what happened to your ability to access these pages. Seems to work fine for me, both from Navigator and IE4.0. If you continue to have difficulty, please e-mail me directly since I cannot respond personally to anonymous suggestions.

  11. Will there be a formula sheet for the second midterm? [11/4]

    When will you have practice 2nd exams posted????? [11/5]

    There are now two midterm exams online; the formula sheet will be available next week.

  12. First of all, thanks a lot for the "Halloween Treat". That was very good. I wish we could have that in all the classes. But just wondering, could we get a Xmas present, the final for example. Thanks a lot. [10/31]

    I am thinking of also giving a Thanksgiving treat. Is anyone interested in a makeup quiz on the Wednesday before the break? ;-)

    Number of students e-mailing me that this is a good idea: nine as of 11/6.

  13. Another problem some of us are having is with the discussion sections... The TAs are not solving enough problems "clearly"!!!!!!!! Most of us leave the room having no idea what the TA did even if we are caught up with the readings and homework!!!!! Most of the time spend in the discussion is """WASTED""" on waiting for us to answer the questions we ask him!!!!!! If we knew how to do the problem we wouldn't have asked!!! DAH!! At times the TA will stand in the front of the room for maybe 2 to 5 minutes just asking the class the same question over and over again when it is obvious that no one has the answer to the question he is asking. Even if someone does know the answer and doesn't feel like answering the rest of the class who doesn't know shouldn't have to waste their time waiting for the TA to get an answer. It is not fair to the rest of us who actually went to the class to figure out a problem that we DON'T know the answer to. This has become a extremely big problem for me along with many other students. This really needs to be looked into for the sake of borderline students. Some of us cannot afford to """WASTE TIME"""". Time is precious as a college student and should not be wasted expecially by the teachers if they want us to pass!!!! [10/31]

    I forwarded your comments on to the recitation instructors and we will be meeting to discuss your comments further. Your TA may provide his own response in class this week; what follows is my own response.

    In past years I have grown disenchanted with the way that recitation sessions work in the following model -- recitation instructor presents solution on board that has probably been worked out ahead of time, student copies down solution and goes home, perhaps with very little active thought during the 50 minutes of recitation. Sometimes the instructor writes up a complete solution and makes it available in the library (or nowadays on the web). Each student then makes photocopies or printouts of solutions to pore over in preparation for the exam. Of course this approach is very tempting for all instructors involved; student use of office hours can be minimized by posting complete solutions to everything!

    I have specifically asked the recitation instructors to avoid falling into the above model. I have encouraged them to not post complete solutions and to not simply present a solution at the board with no student involvement. My preference would be that the instructor would come to each recitation session with no prior knowledge of the problem or its detailed solution -- I would love for you to see how an experienced physics problem solver tackles a problem for the first time. Unfortunately this is just an unrealizable fantasy since each instructor handles several sections per week.

    You may derive some temporary satisfaction during recitation if all the homework assignments are covered, but I question its effectivenss in developing true understanding for the individual student. As a compromise early in the semester I agreed to post a hint and answer to each of the homework assignments -- I hope they have been helpful.

    As usual, I will claim that there is a method to our madness; we may just have to agree to disagree on what should happen during the 50 minutes of recitation. Here are some additional comments from other students regarding the current recitation format.

  14. Recently your concept checks are becomming less and less clear as to what you are actually asking. Could you be a little more direct in what you are asking? If you fixed this maybe you will get a better idea of who knows and understands what is being taught and who does not!!! This is to your benefit as well as ours. A couple of us say the same thing about the quizzes!! [10/31]

    Thanks for the comments. I will try to restore the concept checks to their original state of clarity!

  15. Could you give a step by step explanation of the homework problems; if not possible could you at least post answeres to the really hard questions, the hard questions like the ones at the end of each section? Many of us can get the answer but have no idea if it was approached correctly; maybe a step by step explanation could be given. This would be extremely helpful in teaching ourselves out of class!!! [10/31]

    Could you give a longer more detailed answer to the homework problems a step by step derivation at least for the really hard problems?????? Please!!!!!!!!!!! [10/31]

    Could you make the hints a little longer for the homework problems or could you put an explanation of how you got the answer for each question? [10/31]

    Sure, I can add more hints for future homework assignments. What I would like to do in future semesters would be to add additional structure to the hints, perhaps several layers of hints. However, as I explained below, my development time for web resources is already strained, so I will not be able to expand the hints and answers section dramatically.

  16. Is it posible for you to post the answers of the concept checks. Because the concept checks are really no good without the answer when studying later on in the week. [10/31]

    I am going to decline this request. I do not want the concept checks to deteriorate to just one more thing to study for the exam. I use the concept checks in class as a change of pace, to generate a different opportunity for learning in the lecture hall, and as a chance for you to discuss physics with your peers (albeit for only a minute or two). I also would like to reuse these questions in later semesters. In short, I am afraid that the dynamics of the concept check would change too much by posting the answers -- just make sure you come to class each day and write down the answers...

  17. Could you add to your class web page more of the things covered on class some of us still rely on the web page for notes missed in class. Your web pages for each class are diminishing to barely nothing and are no help to those of us who only pay attention in class and go to the web page for the notes and derivations and further explanations. Some of us don't understand exactly what is going on in class but if we sat down and thought about it would be able to figure it out with your help of course by the supply of your web notes. [10/31]

    Your web pages are not very informative. Is it possible that you could put more information on the web so that we could look at it after class. Just in case we didn't understand something in class we could attempt to figure it out outside of the class but most of the time I personally can't relate everything in my notes to specific topics discussed in class. If I had something to refer to then it would be alot more helpful. [10/31]

    Several factors have led to the attrition of the classnotes section of the website. Having enough available time is the main problem. I have been finding that by the time I make assignments, answers and hints available for the homework and post the concept checks, quizzes, and quiz solutions I often am out of the time available for development of the web resource for the course. I have updated the most recent two classes and will attempt to keep the classes more up to date and fill in the missing notes, but when time becomes too limited I will still be giving priority to the items I mentioned earlier.

  18. How come you said labs are important for learning the concepts when in reality they are long, boring, pointless, and don't help at all? [10/31]

    I checked back at the Laboratory Guidelines to see what was listed there and I see that one of the ten objectives for the laboratory is developing a deeper understanding of some of the concepts of the course. In addition, the objectives for each laboratory exercise are listed in the lab manual, so I would debate your use of the word pointless. Unfortunately, not all learning activites are going to be exciting and some exercises may seem long if good decision making is not applied regarding adequate preparation, use of computer tools for analysis and plotting, and judicious data sampling rates.

  19. What was the answer to the extra credit question from the exam? [10/23]

    Thanks for your patience. The solution to the bonus question is finally available!

  20. How can you have a quiz on RC circuits when the only notes on the class on RC circuits is two lines? What are you trying to do with us? Your notes on that section are infinitesimitesital and we are going to have a quiz on it. [10/16]

    Sorry about that. Just as our midtrem exam may have disrupted your schedule of activities in other courses, I spent most of my recent efforts on office hours, evening exam review, preparation of the exam, and its grading. As a short-term solution I posted scanned images of my handwritten notes. Also, the group activity in recitation this week was meant to prepare you for the quiz. And of course, there is always Sec. 8 of Ch. 28 of HRW!

  21. On my computer, the hints and answers page is no longer password protected. Is this intentional? [10/15]

    The access control for some of our course pages needed to be modified to work properly on the new web server. Password protection has now been restored.

  22. When will the sheet of information for the exam be available? [10/7]

    The formula sheet for the first midterm exam is now ready for your inspection.

  23. I think that it would be a good idea if you updated the homework hints and solutions for this week. Also, could you either explain or put something on the web about Friday's class; I am still unclear about that derivation. [10/5]

    The Hints and Answers page is now up-to-date. And I will follow up on the RC circuit soon...

  24. I was just wondering when the previous exams will be available. On the internet it says practice exams would be available by Oct 3rd. But the exam archive is still empty. I wanted to attempt to do the exams this weekend and I'm sure many others do too. Could you please post the exams as soon as possible. Thanks. [10/4 4pm]

    Could you please try and get the past exams online as soon as possible?? It would help immensely when studying this weekend. Thank you. [10/4 6pm]

    Sorry about that; I fell a bit behind with my online activities this week. You may find the first midterm exam from Fall 1992 in the new exam archive linked from resources.html. Enjoy...

  25. I think that the suggestions should appear with the most recent ones first and the old ones at the end (I've seen the super position suggestion tons of times by now). [10/2]

    Excellent suggestion! It's been implemented. (In case you start to miss the discussion of superposition, just click here.

  26. Are we allowed to use a note card of formulas on the exam? [10/1]

    I will be providing a sheet of information on the exam that will include some of the formulas that we have been using. This sheet will be available on our website for review prior to the exam. The formulas that you feel you need to know that are not on the exam will need to be memorized. For example, I would not want to forget the formula for the surface area of a sphere!

  27. I feel that we are doing too many group problems. Yes the group problems help out. But they take up to much time in discussion section. I thought you said there would only be 4-5 group problems in a semester. We have already had 2. Since the test is coming soon, I think we should focus on problems assigned not on the group problems that suck up all of the class. [9/30]

    I have compromised on one every two weeks. At that rate there should be about four more. The original idea was that the group problems would take up the first ten to fifteen minutes of recitation session. I agree that sometimes too much time is allotted to the group work at the expense of coverage of the homework problems. So we will be moving the group work to the final portion of the recitation class. That will permit some review of the concepts via the homework before tackling the problem. Not the order I would like to see it done, but a compromise that I am willing to make.

  28. Why is there a dark block on the bottom of the answers? It covers the bottom part of the fraction for problems in chap 25 and 23. [9/21]

    I have no idea! I tried all web browsers commonly used and none seemed to exhibit this difficulty. You will need to check with me personally if this continues to be a problem.

  29. Could you perhaps do more teaching on the chalk board instead of the computer. Myself and all of the people I know in our class said that they understood the material better on the days when you taught from the board. Watching you go through things on the board gives us an idea as to how to approach problems where as scrolling through the solution to a problem on the computer does not help as much. It is of course wonderful to have all the notes avalible for our use at any time on the Internet, but in class we understand better from the board. [9/21]

    Having the notes on the internet is a great convienience, but I think that working things out on the chalkboard is essential to understand much of this material. Going through the material over the Internet helps us about as much as just skimming through the book. [9/22]

    Thanks for sharing those observations. I agree with you that when I am working out a detailed solution to a complicated situation, that it is better for me to be working at the board at a more comfortable pace. I plan to continue making as much available as I can on the course web site, Concept Checks, Quiz Solutions, etc., as well as course notes as time permits.

    Just to see if there is a consensus among the rest of the students, I am opening an anonymous Class Format Vote. Please vote only once!

  30. It seems that whenever I click on a link that is not on your web site (i.e. yahoo) it is still displayed in your frame. I don't know how java works, but I know in html there is an extra addition to the end that takes care of it. [9/19]:
    <A HREF="http....." TARGET="_top">

    Thanks for pointing that out. I have been trying to make sure that I do not show other web sites within our own course frame. However this is my first site designed with frames and sometimes I forget. I encourage you to point out whenever I forget to add a target="top" to my URLs.

  31. I just realized that we did not have to do 32E [from Ch. 28], but could you post the solution to that problem anyway? [9/14]

    Actually I am thinking of using that circuit for this week's quiz. So you may refer to the Quizzes and Solutions page this weekend.

  32. What will the quiz cover on friday? [9/16]

    I now plan to announce the subject being covered on the Quizzes and Solutions page by Wednesday of each week. If I forget, please remind me!

  33. I was wondering if in fact you had any old tests in reserve to see exactly what your format and ideas of tests are. If you do have any tests in existence, where are they located and when are they going to be accessible? Thank you. [9/15]

    I'm glad that you asked. One of the virtues of a web-based course is that previous course material can be readily archived. You will find previous exams at our Course Archive -- right now it is empty, but prior to our first exam you should be able to find several of my exams there.

  34. With Internet Explorer, none of the diagrams come up. I don't have 3.0 though, I have 4.0. It makes Netscape Navigator look like nothing in comparison. Internet Explorer is worth getting for all the students, it also includes the internet in the desktop. The only problem is that it is not as good for PHYS208. [9/15]

    Occasionally I use Internet Explorer to check over the course notes for accuracy. Sometimes there are typos in the HTML coding that is used to create these documents. For example, in the problem that you had reported, I dropped the trailing " sign in the image names. Navigator was not bothered by that coding error, so I didn't notice it. For those of you using IE or another browser, please let me know immediately whenever there is a problem.

    The advantages offered by Netscape products for this course are minor. The Javascript that I use for the menu frame doesn't highlight properly, which is just an aesthetic difference. (By the way, if you can show me how to make it work for IE, that would be great!) As long as your web browser handles frames and tables adequately, the look and feel of the PHYS208 web site should be similar to that using Netscape products.

  35. I clicked on the newsgroup box and it said that I had no permission to talk. [9/15]

    Not sure what happened. Could be that you were using a web browser running outside the udel.edu domain? (although I think that we have global access.) Or that you did not have the news server specified? I will need to work with you individually to fix this problem. To be honest though, there has been zero traffic on the course newsgroup...

  36. ... I was wondering if we should know every section of the book, or just the topics that you go over in class? [9/9]

    Legitimate question! The suggested reading assignments and accompanying homework exercises indicate what I think is worth your consideration for a one-semester course in electricity and magnetism. During class I try to highlight the most essential features of that material, fill in gaps and address confusions when introduced by the authors, and answer your general questions, and try to assess your conceptual understanding. A lot to do in 50 minutes...

    So in short, you are responsible for material as mapped out in classes.html. I, in turn, will do my best to give it the best possible representation in class, recitation, and laboratory meetings and in the learning activities that I ask you to do outside of class.

    I realize that you may not yet be satisfied with this answer. As I read once in an e-mail message: Give me ambiguity, or give me something else ... We will discuss this question further as the semester progresses.

  37. Whatever you do, don't allow the T.A.'s to decide what probelems you should assign. Since you are the one who performs the lecture, you are the one who can get a feel as for where the majority of the class stands in reference to understanding the material. Therefore you can assign the problems in the areas we appear to need the most work in and not bog us down with problems that deal with topics we have a strong grip on. ... [9/7]

    So noted. I'm not sure that I can ascertain that much about your individual understanding of material during class; the recitation instructors will have a better chance to observe your problem solving strategies and conceptual understanding. The Concept Checks do help me ascertain some of your understanding during class.

    I plan to continue constructing the homework assigments primarily on my own and most often the night before class...

  38. I think that it would be helpful if you could do more problems in class or post some on the web. I am attempting to do the assigned problems and I am having difficulty. [9/7]

    I am hoping that my response to the previous suggestion above will help some. I will be relying mostly on the recitation instructors to demonstrate examples during recitation section and provide solutions if they see fit, possibly as web pages. I will not be able to devote much time in class to going over examples.

  39. Could you post the answers to the even numbered problems that you assign on your web page? I'm working on the problems, but I have no clue if I'm right or not. [9/6]

    I have created a Hints and Answers page that I will try to keep updated on a daily basis.

  40. Should we spend time remembering who did what when along with what was discovered and the concepts behind it? [9/5]

    This course is primarily about physical concepts rather than history of its development. Although I occasionally mention names and dates, our primary focus is on the physics. The names of laws are just a shortcut to identify quickly the relevant physical relationship or concept under discussion. For our purposes, we need not be overly concerned with where or when the principle was discovered, as interesting as it may be to understand how scientific theories are developed. Of course, this is my personal opinion -- not all would agree...

  41. Is it possible to get notes before the date that you are going to lecture on them? [9/3]

    I was wondering if it would be possible to post the class notes before that day of class. It would be easier to take notes during lecture if we had the course notes in front of us. Thank you. [9/7]

    Unfortunately I will probably be working in a "just-in-time" mode this semester, since this is the first semester that I have used online notes for PHYS208. I will make an effort to get the notes ready as often as possible for availability the evening before class (this may be late evening though...)

  42. I think that it would be helpful if you could add to the outline of what topics we are going to cover the pages in our text book that correspond to the readings. [9/3]

    Certainly a reasonable request, which should be completed by this weekend. Halliday and Resnick 5th ed. is a new text for me. For the time being I have added the readings for the first few classes.

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"http://www.physics.udel.edu/~watson/phys208/suggestions.html"
Last updated Nov. 17, 1997.
Copyright George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 1997.