School of Physics

Traditional Introductory Physics I
PHYS 2211 A, B, & C

Course Policies

The goals of this course are to teach you to understand basic mechanics at the conceptual level, and to help you develop general problem-solving skills that will be useful in your future studies.
This is a difficult course; success will require active engagement on your part. No amount of instruction by the faculty will (by itself) give you what you need to know, if you do not take responsibility for your own learning. Similarly, a superficial reading of the text will not be sufficient to teach you the material. "Active engagement" requires a conscientious effort on your part, including:
  • reading the material in advance, and coming to class every day, ready to participate in class discussions (Skipping class, or simply showing up to "soak up" information passively has been repeatedly demonstrated to be a failing strategy.)
  • following up the lectures with independent efforts at problem solving, starting from the basic physics principles, rather than some "magic bullet" formula. The single, greatest mistake that physics students make is to believe that by regurgitating some result from a previously-worked problem or example, they are "doing physics" themselves. The "Physics" is in the analytical steps that lead to an understanding of a particular problem!
Good Advice
Here is some further advice for developing successful study habits.
Here is advice from past successful students on how to earn an "A".
You should be aware that there is a wealth of historical data in the introductory physics courses that clearly point out two winning strategies: go to class and do the Practice Homework. Please take some time to look over this data; you may be surprised at how much of a difference such efforts can make, popular myths to the contrary notwithstanding.
MATH 1552 is a co-requisite for this course.
Physics for Scientists and Engineers - A Strategic Approach (Fourth Edition)
by Randall D. Knight.
  • Chapters 1 through 13 will be covered.
  • If you are buying the softcover multi-volume edition, you will need only Volume One.
  • The Student Workbook has been found to provide valuable practice for conceptual questions.
Grading Policy
  Weight in Course
Quizzes, weighted average of 4 45%
Laboratory 15%
Recitation 5%
Final Exam 25%
Other, maximum of 10+2%
Total 100+2%
"Other" consists of:
  Weight in Course
Regular Homework 5+2%
Practice Homework 4%
Class Participation 3%
Reading Questions 2%
Public Lectures 1%
Letter grades
A 90% or more
B 80–89%
C 70–79%
D 60–69%
F 59% or less
Progress Reports (midterm grades) will be issued on a Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory basis.
Attendance for all lectures is strongly encouraged. Successful completion of this course will require a sustained effort on your part to keep up with the material and understand the topics as they are presented. It is expected that you will read the indicated portion of the text prior to the lecture. Please turn off all cell phones during lecture.
A tentative daily course schedule is available which lists the general topics to be covered, reading assignments, and quiz dates.
Class Participation
Since participation can play a role in determining your final grade, be warned that falsifying participation data will be dealt with harshly; see the Honor Code Guidelines for more details.
Class participation will be evaluated via the use of the TurningPoint System on a daily basis, including Monday of the Final Instructional Class Days. The TurningPoint System will be used to administer short, in-class questions which will further your conceptual understanding of the topics being discussed. Consequently, it is important to read the material in advance of the class meeting, in order to be prepared for the TurningPoint questions. Every student is expected to answer every question posed in every class period!
It is the student's responsibility to register a TurningPoint transmitter or ResponseWare ID on T-Square, and then to bring the transmitter or mobile device to class each day in operable condition.
Reading Questions
One question evaluated with the TurningPoint System each day will be over the reading assigned for that day's class meeting.
This is a forum for students to answer each other’s questions. Physics questions are to be answered by fellow students. Questions and posts on Homework can ONLY help with learning. Posting complete solutions to homework and exam problems will be taken down and are in violation of the honor code. We reserve the right to take down inappropriate questions or shut down Piazza if it is not being used as it was intended. Policy added Jan 12.
Recitation will be 5% of your course grade. Recitation provides an opportunity for students to see problems worked through logically, with explanations, and to practice problem-solving techniques.
Recitations begin the week of Jan 16. (Of course, no recitation will be held on Jan 16, as that's a holiday.)
Be sure to read the detailed description of recitation policies.
Labs begin the week of Jan 16. (Of course, no lab will be held on Jan 16, as that's a holiday.) You are responsible for reading all the lab policy and administrative pages before your first lab. Check the "Lab Hours, Rooms, and TAs" page shortly before your first lab meeting, in case the room has been changed.
Attendance in lab is a course requirement. To pass this course, you must pass the laboratory portion with an average of 60% or more. Three unexcused absences from lab will result in automatic failure of the lab, and therefore, of the course.
Homework assignments will be administered and graded electronically, through an internet-based system called WebAssign. The cost of WebAssign is covered by your Lab Fee. Do not make any additional payments to WebAssign. You do not need an "access code". If WebAssign asks your for payment or an access code, contact Dr. Murray. Be sure to register with WA in order to activate your homework account.
Homework will consist of a Regular assignment for each class meeting and a Practice assignment each week. All assignments are due at 11:59pm Tuesday evening in the week after the topics on the assignments have been covered, including Tuesday of the Final Instructional Class Days. We recommend, however, that the homework on each topic be completed before the next class meeting. To encourage that, bonus points will be issued for working Regular homework early — by 8:59am in the morning before the next class meeting. For example, if a particular topic is covered on Monday, bonus points will be issued for homework on that topic that is done by 8:59am on Wednesday. Bonus points are 40% of the grade earned on a Regular assignment Bonus points are not capped, and since the Regular homework is worth 5% of your course grade, the bonus points could be worth as much as 2% of your course grade.
We hope these bonus points will encourage students to confront (and presumably, understand) the material in a given lecture, before attending the next. We particularly recommend that homework on topics covered on a quiz be completed before the quiz, even if it isn't due until after the quiz.
Note that the Practice assignments are not optional assignments! Success in this course (or in learning any new skill, really) requires practice!
It is expected that each student's submitted homework be based on an individual understanding of the relevant material. Note that this does not rule out working on homework with other students (or tutors, or the use of the Physics Help Room), but any collaboration should involve the sharing of understanding, not answers. (Further guidelines regarding collaborative work can be found in the Honor Code Guidelines.) Copying answers from peers or solution manuals will not provide the level of understanding necessary to succeed on the quizzes, and is strongly discouraged. Keep in mind that 70% of your grade will be based upon your test-taking ability; don't short-change yourself by cutting corners on homework assignments.
Four regular quizzes and one final exam will be administered in this course. Each quiz will carry a different weight. From poorest to best performance, each student's quizzes will count 6%, 9%, 12%, and 18%, respectively, of their course grade. The regular quizzes will be held at 6:05pm on the Monday evenings indicated in the course schedule. Do not attend the Monday evening sessions except on quiz days!
You are responsible for reading and following the Rules and Procedures for Quizzes and Final before coming to the first regular quiz.
Students excused by the Institute under section IV.B.3 of the Student Rules and Regulations must make alternative quiz-taking arrangements at least a week in advance. Students whose presence elsewhere is required by a court of law, or for whom accommodation for an absence is requested by the Office of the Dean of Students, must substitute their final exam grade for the grade of the missed quiz. Note that the Office of the Dean of Students will not make such a request for routine matters such as short-term illness, doctor appointments, wedding attendance … job interviews, and the like.
The final exam period has been set by the Registrar's Office. The Final Exam for all PHYS 2211 sections will be administered Exam Period Twenty, Wednesday, May 03, from 6:00 to 8:50pm. Note that this is NOT the period corresponding to your lecture time. Arrangements for students who have a Class II Conflict will be worked out later in the term.
Academic Integrity
The policy on academic integrity as stated in the GIT Honor Code will be fully enforced during this course.