GENERAL ADVICE ON PHYSICS 117 (Spring 2008)

 TIMING is the first key to mastering Physics 117 efficiently: Doing each job earlier pays off much better than doing it later.

 Read the text BEFORE the lecture, and note any parts which you find hard to understand.  Then look for clarification when the topic comes up in lecture. And if you don't get the clarification you need, ask about your trouble points, either in class, immediately after class, or as soon as possible. Confusions tolerated too long undermine your grasp of subsequent new material, and burden your later efforts.

 Do the problems BEFORE you look at the solutions. Do them carefully, on paper, striving always to get a final algebraic expression for the desired result BEFORE you insert the numerical values for the parameters. This separates the formulation from the calculation and allows you to check your results separately for numerical and conceptual errors.

 Understand the lab and what you will have to do with it BEFORE you go there.  Then you can do your lab work efficiently so that you can obtain the data you need and still have time to finish the lab report and submit it before you leave at the end of the session.

 INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING is a second key.  Try to see what the objects of physical interest are and how they are related. Then many standard equations of physics become natural reflections of an underlying reality of which you have a grasp, rather than mysterious incantations to be applied blindly.

 If you are gifted with a good memory, it will sometimes seem easier simply to memorize an important algebraic relationship than to do the work needed to grasp it intuitively. You should resist this temptation. Instead of memorizing a physical relationship (e.g. as it occurs in a HW problem you have solved successfully) and setting it aside as soon as the problem is solved, you should instead reconsider it from various viewpoints: rearrange it, invert it, apply it to other cases, toy with it, consider its behavior in cases where one or another numerical parameter becomes extremely large or extremely small,...until it becomes so familiar that you can remember it easily or ,even reconstruct it whenever you need to, without any need to ``memorize'' it.

 AVOID MEMORIZATION . If instead you choose to use brute memorization, you may soon arrive at your memory overload point while still lacking the fundamental understanding you'll need to go further.  Then things get very tough very quickly. This seems to be a special hazard for very bright students, who have done brilliantly in High School Physics by using total recall. To them Physics 117 may look like a piece of familiar cake. But as the material accumulates, pure memory becomes more burdened, while cultivated intuition becomes more and more powerful.

 ASK FOR EXTRA HELP. The Teaching Assistant(s) in course will be available during specified office hours (posted under Prospectus) for drop-in conversations. When there are more than one TA in the course, you should feel free to consult any TA in the course whose hours are convenient, not just the TA who manages your section, and to ask for an appointment during other than the scheduled office hours if necessary. In addition, the lecturer will be available for questions after each lecture period, and at other times by appointment(Call 405-6118 or 405-6115 to make an appointment).