Friday, October 19, 2007

Back in MY Day

Last week I did a calculation on the board in my physics class. The physics was simple (just two lines), but the algebra to solve the problem involved most of the board. Must to my dismay (horror? surprise?), instead of writing down the derivation, several of the students took out their camera phones and snapped pics of it. "If I copy it down, I might make a mistake," was the response to my, well, sarcastic questioning. The art of note-taking is fading, fading... gone.

About half of my physics students are architecture majors. If you aren't aware, architecture students get worked hard in their classes. I understand that, truly, but there's a level of work that you need to put into physics to understand it. Problem-solving is a skill learned through practice, not just by watching someone else perform calculations. I approached a few of my students about their (non-existant) homework scores, and they sheepishly admitted they needed to put in more work. But they also said, "At least when you were a physics major, you could just concentrate on the physics, without having all this other work to do." Yes, I remember, back in the day, when I was required to take only one class each semester so I could give my attention solely to learning physics.... Everybody's own major is the hardest, isn't it?

10 comments:

SarahP said...

Oh, but the cellphone picture thing is brilliant! I'll have to tell J about that one.

I always know when he's been writing on the chalkboard because he comes home with pink chalk stains on his khakis because he puts the chalk in his pockets.

Jackie M. said...

Nah, man. Physics and electrical engineering are the hardest, full stop.

Just make them derive and rederive that chalkboard in homework and on tests and on homework again. That'll learn 'em.

Greg van Eekhout said...

No, man, English is totally the hardest. Cuz you have to, like, read books. And then write stuff about the books you read. And then talk about the books and stuff.

Some of the books have big words. And small print.

Sometimes you lose your bookmark, too.

Kirsten said...

Back in MY day, I had an astro class where the professor wrote down chalkboard after chalkboard of math to explain some feature of cosmology, which we would all dutifully copy down. Then he'd say, "But that, of course, was all wrong." He'd erase everything and start over. And this happened again and again and again.

I wish I'd had a cameraphone. I might have thrown it at him, though.

Dr. Lisa said...

Let's see...I've learned to not put chalk in my pockets, physics is indeed the hardest major, Greg has difficulty reading and writing, and I should be glad that the camera phone wasn't thrown at me. Thanks, all! ;)

Anonymous said...

Do you pose next to your equation like Vanna White?

I'd take a picture of that!

the Gimp

Randbot said...

Well, sociology was pretty easy. Then again, I was specifically looking for easy majors, seeing as how I had to complete it in only 1.5 years.

Undeclared is the hardest!

Dr. Lisa said...

Do I pose? I don't think so. Of course, the students would be better able to answer that.

Undeclared - I do believe that may be the hardest!

Pat. said...

I remember having a 4 color pen and taking pains to use all colors equally while taking notes. They were so lovely and colorful that I actually ENJOYED re-reading them!

Dr. Lisa said...

Were all your magnetic fields blue? I had an old officemate that did that.