Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

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markl
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Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby markl » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:50 pm

Complaining Undergrad!
I need to rant about how disappointed I am with my physics department, and need some perspective, excuse yet another long rambling post.

I am in intro physics, its going slow and is absurdly easy now that I got that hang of how physics problems work. There's no honors level so I am stuck going at this tedious pace. The test questions where all plug and chug besides one question that had to do with some obscure stuff we barely covered, didn't really demonstrate understand of material either. There is no way to differentiate yourself in the class because the professor doesn't give any legitimately hard or interesting problems. The teacher takes time out of class to teach calculus concepts, very poorly at that, even though this is supposed to take a calculus based course. Class is graded on a curve even though there is nothing to curve, because nothing is hard!! and I am worried it will pull down my grade. In grading they don't seem to be worried about how well you conceptually understand the material, just plugging in number and getting the right answer seems to be all that matters, so even if I show I understand the concepts clearly and use the right equations if I make a slight error in calculation I get the same grade and someone who doesn't understand it at all.


The lab is even worse, we don't even do anything besides do tedious simple measurements and do statistics, it doesn't help our understanding of the stuff we do in class at all, you can tell they just don't feel like putting in the work to make the labs worthwhile for the students. It's just all busy work. Grading is horrible, there is no continuum of grades you either get an A or if you make a silly mistake like leave out a unit, miss a decimal point, forget to put the scale on your graph, word something weird or anything at all; you get a B, nothing in between. They seems to grade on a scale too but the criteria is unclear, as far as I can tell and what the TA told me, is that if someone did "better" than you can't get an A. I am not sure how a lab report containing the same things can be deemed better? Should I use more flowery language? Do some calligraphy?

My school doesn't have a strong physics department and has very few undergrads, at this points I realize the material is fun and will get better but I can't stand the way they grade because it seems to highly penalize the type of student I am, someone who get everything does well but might make a mistake, more severely than I think can be justified?

I don't see how they way there classes are conducted can leave anyone with anything but a bad taste in there mouth for physics. I wonder if this is a result with them realize that almost no one in the classes are physics majors?

I'm sure some of you professors will think I am just another complaining undergrad but I really went into this with bright expectations. I feel very frustrated that I don't have any opportunities to show my professors and TA's that I get the material very well and deserve the top grades, since all the stuff they assign is so facile and is nearly more of a class in bookkeeping than science.

Thanks for reading if you did, and leave a comment I need some feedback.

ps. The blue eyed girl from Cornell, sorry I'm too lazy too look up your handle, thanks for your advice on critically thinking about equations, I am breezing through the material now, I seem to have hit my physics "stride" using your techniques!

a bucket
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby a bucket » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:03 pm

I feel your pain. I would say the material does get more challenging after intro classical and intro E&M since these classes are usually intended to weed out people.

But I've been having the same problem as you not with physics, but with all the bullshit distribution requirements my college makes me do. I wanted take a couple of econometrics classes to satisfy some of the social science requirements. But these were all senior level classes and apparently the moment any mathematical concept is introduced into an economics course it stops being social science and cannot satisfy the social science distribution requirement (retarded, right?). As a result I was stuck taking microeconomics with a bunch of idiots who don't know what a derivative is. I was falling asleep in class and had no motivation to get off my ass and take the midterm test.

The distribution requirements have completely destroyed my grades and I hate the fuckin morons who came up with this retarded system of education where you're penalized for knowing more than others!!!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Sorry about that... needed to release my frustration after getting out of microecon II. :(

abeboparebop
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby abeboparebop » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:10 pm

a bucket wrote:I feel your pain. I would say the material does get more challenging after intro classical and intro E&M since these classes are usually intended to weed out people.

But I've been having the same problem as you not with physics, but with all the bullshit distribution requirements my college makes me do. I wanted take a couple of econometrics classes to satisfy some of the social science requirements. But these were all senior level classes and apparently the moment any mathematical concept is introduced into an economics course it stops being social science and cannot satisfy the social science distribution requirement (retarded, right?). As a result I was stuck taking microeconomics with a bunch of idiots who don't know what a derivative is. I was falling asleep in class and had no motivation to get off my ass and take the midterm test.

The distribution requirements have completely destroyed my grades and I hate the fuckin morons who came up with this retarded system of education where you're penalized for knowing more than others!!!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Sorry about that... needed to release my frustration after getting out of microecon II. :(


Uh, you skipped the midterm? And now you have a bad grade?

Yeah, your school administrators sure are morons.

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Helio
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby Helio » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:12 pm

a bucket wrote:I feel your pain. I would say the material does get more challenging after intro classical and intro E&M since these classes are usually intended to weed out people.

But I've been having the same problem as you not with physics, but with all the bullshit distribution requirements my college makes me do. I wanted take a couple of econometrics classes to satisfy some of the social science requirements. But these were all senior level classes and apparently the moment any mathematical concept is introduced into an economics course it stops being social science and cannot satisfy the social science distribution requirement (retarded, right?). As a result I was stuck taking microeconomics with a bunch of idiots who don't know what a derivative is. I was falling asleep in class and had no motivation to get off my ass and take the midterm test.

The distribution requirements have completely destroyed my grades and I hate the fuckin morons who came up with this retarded system of education where you're penalized for knowing more than others!!!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Sorry about that... needed to release my frustration after getting out of microecon II. :(


then take a *** nap during the test... that is what i did during my microecon test and still finished first

mhazelm
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby mhazelm » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:25 pm

I would say if the material is too easy, then pick up a more advanced book and read it at the same time.

Part of being professional is doing things that are sometimes mundane and boring - it sucks, but that's life. It can't always be new and exciting.

Theoretischer
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby Theoretischer » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:38 pm

The most important step in solving any problem is a positive attitude.

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grae313
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby grae313 » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:39 pm

Gen Ed classes are boring and painful, but soooooo easy to get As/A+s in. I motivated myself to do the boring bullshit work by thinking *grad school**grad school**grad school*.... You just have to do it.

Lower division physics classes were lame. When I took my first upper division physics class it was like, "Yes! FINALLY!" Stick it out, do the grunt work, get good grades. If you are bored, start teaching yourself more advanced subject matter.

markl
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby markl » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:45 pm

a bucket wrote:I feel your pain. I would say the material does get more challenging after intro classical and intro E&M since these classes are usually intended to weed out people.

But I've been having the same problem as you not with physics, but with all the bullshit distribution requirements my college makes me do. I wanted take a couple of econometrics classes to satisfy some of the social science requirements. But these were all senior level classes and apparently the moment any mathematical concept is introduced into an economics course it stops being social science and cannot satisfy the social science distribution requirement (retarded, right?). As a result I was stuck taking microeconomics with a bunch of idiots who don't know what a derivative is. I was falling asleep in class and had no motivation to get off my ass and take the midterm test.

The distribution requirements have completely destroyed my grades and I hate the fuckin morons who came up with this retarded system of education where you're penalized for knowing more than others!!!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Sorry about that... needed to release my frustration after getting out of microecon II. :(




Bucket, I reciprocate the feeling of the pain, gen ed's suck hard man! I'm taking mine pass/fail!!

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dlenmn
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby dlenmn » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:47 pm

Unless almost everyone finds it as easy as you do (they don't -- even you didn't) you shouldn't fear the curve. A typical intro physics course can be made challenging, but I doubt it can truly be made interesting (though some schools take other routs, like start physics majors with a bit of quantum and other interesting stuff). There's nothing to it but to do it.
Last edited by dlenmn on Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Theoretischer
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby Theoretischer » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:51 pm

.
Last edited by Theoretischer on Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dlenmn
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby dlenmn » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:58 pm

Theoretischer wrote:What are you talking about? The introductory physics courses teach you why bridges stand, car shocks break down, water velocity out of a hose increases when you put your thumb over the end, rainbows are multiple colors, what light is, how it truly means to be a trajectory!

The phenomena you study in introductory physics is very approachable, I thought that was great.


I had already learned all of the interesting qualitative stuff in high-school. Most of those things can be (and were) understood without physics as we know it anyway. Even then, I wouldn't call those things particularly exciting relative to the things you can learn and do in other intro classes (many intro classes don't cover fluids or light either, so your most interesting examples don't count anyway). The labs for into physics classes are also almost universally super boring. There are no two ways about it. Nothing exciting there.

Being taught the quantitative stuff in an intro physics class was useful, but not exciting. My school had an honors section, which just made things harder, but not really more interesting (until we did some statmech at the end). They since redid the class and I hear it's much better because they cover some modern physics.
Last edited by dlenmn on Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:17 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Helio
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby Helio » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:00 pm

dlenmn wrote:
Theoretischer wrote:What are you talking about? The introductory physics courses teach you why bridges stand, car shocks break down, water velocity out of a hose increases when you put your thumb over the end, rainbows are multiple colors, what light is, how it truly means to be a trajectory!

The phenomena you study in introductory physics is very approachable, I thought that was great.


I has already learned all of the interesting qualitative stuff in high-school. Most of those things can be (and were) understood without physics as we know it anyway.

Being taught the quantitative stuff in an intro physics class was useful, but not exciting.


if you took the AP-physics C or any semi equivalent class you can sleep through the first 2 semesters... they are nearly the same everywhere except for honors track people

markl
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby markl » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:30 pm

More than anything I'm pissed about the way the grade labs, does it seem absurd to anyone else?

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Helio
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby Helio » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:36 pm

markl wrote:More than anything I'm pissed about the way the grade labs, does it seem absurd to anyone else?


lol at least you have a grading system that is consistent... they changed it 4 times while i was taking labs and then a couple times after taht

markl
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby markl » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:00 am

It sucks seems like I'm destined for a B in lab because there seems to be no objective way to improve it :(

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby coreycwgriffin » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:13 am

markl wrote:It sucks seems like I'm destined for a B in lab because there seems to be no objective way to improve it :(


I remember when I took sophomore level physics lab no matter what I did almost every lab report was an 85%. Usually little or no explanation. Any comments I did get were along the lines of, "You could elaborate more here." I think the highest I ever got was an 89%.

slugger
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby slugger » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:34 am

my intro level lab was all statistical analysis and error propagation (literally ALL). I thought it was stupid not to be doing any physics experiments at the time, but ironically i am teaching a 1 credit course on exactly the same subject matter to senior engineering students. None of them have ever even SEEN the error propagation formula. The boring stuff is fundamental and necessary, and now i am glad i learned it all.

murs
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby murs » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:58 pm

Teaching physics 1 lab and grading for a math class, I can attest to grading being hard. I will always give students partial credit for trying the problem and normally only take off about 10% for bad calculations if the rest is right.

Labs may be a different story. I consider most of the labs I get terrible and lazy, but one student I talked to says she spends about 6 hours per lab report. I have tried to adjust my grading accordingly, but I still want to give out 60% to everyone who thinks "error resistance" (someone wrote that instead of air resistance) makes projectiles go farther.

astrofan
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby astrofan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:21 pm

slugger wrote:my intro level lab was all statistical analysis and error propagation (literally ALL). I thought it was stupid not to be doing any physics experiments at the time, but ironically i am teaching a 1 credit course on exactly the same subject matter to senior engineering students. None of them have ever even SEEN the error propagation formula. The boring stuff is fundamental and necessary, and now i am glad i learned it all.


Statistical analysis is a VERY important part of science, I regret waiting until senior year to take an advanced lab technique class.

Error propagation is also very important, and I found it a little difficult with the advanced labs we were doing in the class.

I am glad I learned both before grad school. There is a HUGE difference between that, and doing a projectile experiment and writting a lab report on that crap. IF I took this lab instead of the bull *** labs that we did in general physics, I would have been much happier.

slugger
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Re: Complaining Undergrad Strikes Backs

Postby slugger » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:56 pm

murs wrote:Teaching physics 1 lab and grading for a math class, I can attest to grading being hard. I will always give students partial credit for trying the problem and normally only take off about 10% for bad calculations if the rest is right.

Labs may be a different story. I consider most of the labs I get terrible and lazy, but one student I talked to says she spends about 6 hours per lab report. I have tried to adjust my grading accordingly, but I still want to give out 60% to everyone who thinks "error resistance" (someone wrote that instead of air resistance) makes projectiles go farther.


I swear its like my students banned together and vowed only to hand in crap to me. i swear they can smell blood in the water. Its a 1-credit required class composed almost entirely of graduating seniors and im an adjunct, so if i fail anyone i am going to get yelled at by the department. I had a student call me a week after the first exam to let me know he didnt take it, and he would like another week because he had a lot going on. I give partial credit if someone makes a mark on the page (as much as 5 pts if the mark is in the shape of a number), and right now i have a 30 pt curve and i STILL have 2 Fs. I swear Its like theres some kind of OPEC homework embargo going on.




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