Introductory Course Comparison

The School of Physics offers two introductory physics curricula -- Traditional and Modern & Interactions (M&I).


Overview of Learning Approaches

Traditional Flavor

  • The standard mechanics course and electromagnetism course based on Knight follows the traditional physics curriculum.
  • Most lectures use modern interactive engagement techniques to increase student participation. In particular, students frequently use PRS (Personal Response System) clickers to respond, in real time, to questions posed by instructors during lecture.
  • The course offers homework through the WebAssign system and provides examinations that include both multiple-choice along with 2-3 free-response questions (see course materials for examples). The course includes a 2 hour laboratory and separate 1 hour recitation section offered once per week for a total contact time of 3 hours (see course materials for examples).

M&I Flavor

  • M&I mechanics based on Chabay and Sherwood organizes the curriculum around 3 principles (conservation laws: momentum, energy, and angular momentum), a microscopic view of matter (ball and spring model), and an emphasis on modern tools (numerical computation and visualization).
  • M&I E&M based on Chabay and Sherwood organizes the curriculum around the concept of fields (including effects on matter) and an emphasis on modern tools (numerical computation and visualization).
  • All lectures use modern interactive engagement techniques to increase student participation. In particular, students frequently use PRS (Personal Response System) clickers to respond, in real time, to questions posed by instructors during lecture.
  • The course offers homework through the WebAssign system and provides examinations composed entirely of free-response questions (see course materials for examples). The course includes a combined laboratory/recitation section offered once per week for a total contact time of 3 hours (see course materials for examples).
  • Further background material on the M&I curriculum can be found in the following references. Articles are available in pdf format on this page.
    • Chabay, R. W., & Sherwood, B. A. Bringing atoms into first-year physics. American Journal of Physics, 67: 1045-1050 (1999).
    • Chabay, R. W. & Sherwood, B. A. Modern mechanics. American Journal of Physics 72, 439-445 (2004).
    • Chabay, R. W. & Sherwood, B. A. Matter and Interactions. compadre.org (2007) [link].
    • Chabay, R. & Sherwood, B. Computational physics in the introductory calculus-based course. American Journal of Physics, 76 (4&5), pp. 307-313 (2008).

Sample Materials for Introductory Mechanics

Samples of homework, labs, and recitation exercises for the 2211 courses are available here. Where possible, links to pdf formatted materials have been provided. Additional materials are available from instructors.

Homework Questions

Below, sample homework questions appear for both M&I and the traditional course. For more questions, or to review more homework materials please contact Ed Greco (M&I) or Eric Murray (traditional) for access to the homework systems.

  • Dynamics and Kinematics Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Gravitation Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Curving Motion Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Work/Energy Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Angular Momentum Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Non-overlap Problems: M&I, Traditional

Laboratories

Sample labs that are considered characteristic of each course (in pdf or html format) are linked below.

Dynamics and Kinematics

  • Traditional: Lab 2, The Acceleration of Gravity, [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 2, Fancart Dynamics [pdf; experimental lab] and [pdf; computer modeling lab]

Force

  • Traditional: Lab 4, Newton's First Law, [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 4, Young's Modulus [pdf; experimental lab]

Energy

  • Traditional: Lab 10, Work and Kinetic Energy, [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 8, Energy in a binary star system [pdf; computer modeling lab] and Lab 9, Analyzing different choices of system [pdf; experimental lab]

Non-overlap

  • Traditional: Lab 12, Kinetic Energy in Collisions, [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 13, Einstein model of a solid [pdf 1, pdf 2; computer modeling lab]

Recitation

All recitation information is available for both courses on the course websites, linked below. Recitation in the standard course is given outside of the lab room by a different TA than the lab TA. Students solve questions on paper after receiving instruction from the recitation TA (an example). The TA engages students while working these problems. In the M&I course, recitation is part of the laboratory. Students solve problems on whiteboards (similar to the standard course's recitation problem) and Lab TAs verify the work. Additionally, M&I students are given lab quizzes (solved individually) at start of most labs before the whiteboard problems.

Sample recitation materials that are considered characteristic of each course (in pdf format) are linked below.

Force and Motion

  • Traditional: Projectile Motion, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Gravitation Whiteboard [pdf] and Curving Motion, Lab Quiz [pdf]

Energy

  • Traditional: Conservation of Energy, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Energy Principle Whiteboard [pdf] and Real vs. Point Particle, Lab Quiz [pdf]

Angular Momentum

  • Traditional: Angular Momentum, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Collision Whiteboard [pdf] and Angular Momentum, Lab Quiz [pdf]

Sample Materials for Introductory Electromagnetism

Samples of homework, labs, recitation exercises and exam questions for the 2212 courses are available here. Where possible, links to pdf formatted materials has been provided. Additional materials are available from instructors.

Homework Questions

Below, sample homework questions appear for both M&I and the standard course. For more questions, or to review more homework materials please contact Ed Greco (M&I) or Martin Jarrio (standard) for access to the homework systems. Click the homework questions for higher resolution versions.

  • Electrostatics Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • DC Circuits Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Magnetostatics Problems: M&I, Traditional
  • Faraday's Law Problems: M&I, Traditional

Laboratories

A sampling of characteristic labs in each course (in pdf or html format) are linked below.

Electrostatics

  • Traditional: Lab 1, Force, Field, and Superposition [pdf; tutorial]
  • M&I: Lab 2, Field of a point charge [pdf; computer modeling lab]

DC Circuits

  • Traditional: Lab 8, Capacitance and RC Circuits [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 8, Energy Conservation in Circuits [pdf; experimental lab]

Magnetostatics

  • Traditional: Lab 10, Magnetic Force [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 7, Magnetic fields due to a current-carrying wire [pdf; experimental lab] and Lab 10, Charged particle in a magnetic field [pdf; computer modeling lab]

Non-overlap

  • Traditional: Lab 12, Inductance and RL Circuits [html; experimental lab]
  • M&I: Lab 12, Faraday's Law [pdf; experimental lab]

Recitation

All recitation information is available for both courses on the course websites, linked below. Recitation in the standard course is given outside of the lab room by a different TA than the lab TA. Students solve questions on paper after receiving instruction from the recitation TA (an example). The TA engages students while working these problems. In the M&I course, recitation is part of the laboratory. Students solve problems on whiteboards (similar to the standard course's recitation problem) and Lab TAs verify the work. Additionally, M&I students are given lab quizzes (solved individually) at start of most labs before the whiteboard problems.

Sample recitation materials that are considered characteristic of each course (in pdf format) are linked below.

Electrostatics

  • Traditional: Electrostatics, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Electrostatics Whiteboard [pdf] and Lab Quiz [pdf]

DC Circuits

  • Traditional: DC Circuits, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: DC Circuits Whiteboard [image] and Lab Quiz [pdf]

Magnetostatics

  • Traditional: Magnetostatics, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Magnetostatics Whiteboard [image 1, image 2] and Lab Quiz [pdf]

Faraday's Law

  • Traditional: Faraday's Law, Example and Problem [pdf]
  • M&I: Faraday's Law Whiteboard [image 1, image 2] and Lab Quiz [pdf]