Relying on myself to teach/learn physics

Hey all, as my post subject implies Im having to teach physics to myself going by my text. My physics professor is going straight out of the book, and really cant answer questions without referring/looking at his book in class to answer the question. I hate to be bashing him, because I do think he is a very nice man. I have stayed after to get some clarification with homework problems just to be more confused than I was on my own, he makes lots of mistakes (I guess he is human like you and I but…) so I have come to the conclusion I have to self-teach physics which means I will need other aids to help reinforce/clarify points not done so well by the text I already have. I have ordered Schaum’s and another titled “3,000 worked physics problems and how to make the grade” anyone know of any other useful books or have used the ones I have just ordered? Im not totally lost, I just like to feel comfortable with ALL the material, if there is such a thing, and I am worried because Im having to teach myself that I wont do a good job come time for the tests.

Thanks in advance!

tough question, tough situation, and I don’t have any easy answers for you. I do recall from my experience that doing the problems actually did help me understand the material, especially in classical physics where I just Did Not Get It for a good portion of the semester. It was like I needed to see how the concepts played out in questions before I could understand them.
What about your physics lab instructor? Is s/he any help? What are others in the class doing? My physics lab was set up in such a way that we had quite a bit of time to “network” with classmates and if I’d been in a situation like yours, I think I would’ve probably been able to get help from some of my brainier classmates.
I do think that physics may be eminently learnable in this fashion, but it is unfortunate that you have to do so. Hang in there, and keep pluggin’ away.

Hi Pseudo. I’m in a similar situation. In our first class our instructor informed us that he would be covering only 22 of the 44 chapters in our physics text. He went on to say that his students do well on the MCAT, but it was almost as though he was really trying to convince himself more than us. I’m planning on doing the same as you–and hopefully picking up the material well enough to get at least a fundamental understanding. I’ve used REA’s Problem Solvers as supplements for Calculus and General Chem and they have been very good. I’ll be picking up the Physics and Organic Chemistry this week.
Good luck!

Try this link
This is the web site of The Standard Deviants that have review lectures that should help you out.

This site is soo awesome, see like everyone comes to one another’s aid, thanks you guys/gals.
I have purchsed Rea’s Problem Solver for physics (thanks for the tip), waiting for it to arrive, still waiting for the others to arrive too.
Mary, I totally know what you mean about the concepts, I think Im just going to have to plug and chug. My professor is our lab instructor, but he has an assistant and he is going to help me with one of my homework problems tonight before my stats class dealing with wind coming in at angle against a plane. Im getting confused about the resultant vector, the hypotenuse, and whether or not it is always the magnitude of the vector, and if I can plug in different numbers to get distance using the same triangle, uggggh, the list goes on and on. Anyway, I have tried to network with other students, havent met one yet that is in better shape than me, and that may be a bit concerning.

Gabe, I followed your link to those DVDs, seems like there is ALOT of information in just an hour and a half’s time, are the lectures that straight forward and clarifying? Thanks for the link!

I have the organic chemistry videos. And while I have not really watched them (bad of me. I plan to use them for MCAT prep), yet. I did watch some of it and they take the concepts and break them down in such a way that you will understand the basics and have an intuition about the material.
The most important part of physics is to have an intuition about the material. You understand what a weight feels like, so try to think about the forces acting on the weight and picture arrows pointing in all the directions. Get an intuition and you should have no problem.
Let me know how the DVDs work out for you.
PS glad I was able to help.
this site may be of some help for questions.

It might also be helpful to pick up an MCAT review book and see what kind of physics concepts are in there. That way you can be sure you are studying the right things.

in every physics dept there are upper-level undergrads or grad students who love to teach physics and are good at it. It’s worth hiring one of them. Before committing, meet with them to find out if they think they can help you. Do not hesitate to switch tutors if their teaching style does not work for you.
Also, the school may offer tutoring through the academic advising office or something similar.

Sorry…I can’t offer any good tips…but I can offer my comraderie. I find myself in the same situation. I’m starting to go to a tutor because I find that I really don’t “get” Physics intuitively and it’s just not going to be one of those things that I can teach myself. Plus, my professor is going at lightning speed, so I really don’t have time to do anything but try to keep my head above water.
When I complain about how hard it is for me and how my teacher doesn’t really teach, everyone says “It’s Physics,” so I’d think there would be a world of study aids/material to somehow make this material more student-friendly. If anyone else has anyother suggestions or tried-and-true suggestions, please send them this way!

This might sound crazy, but I would do a google search when I needed a concept clarified. My searches often turned up websites from other schools/other professors’ lecture material, some of them were VERY clear and helpful. Give that a try.

I agree with AnitaGC. I’ve found a good ole Google saved me in Organic Chem this summer as well. And try the high school web sites. It’s kinda scary to think we all probably learned this stuff way back when, but the high school sites do a great job at explaining difficult concepts.

I’m in physics right now too. I bought a few supplemental problem books from and at the beginning of the semester I tried really hard to do problems from the supplemental books that seemed to cover topics we were covering in class. I ended up confusing myself and I didn’t do well on the first test. I then started to concentrate on the assigned problems from my textbook and to spend a lot more time only on these problems, and that’s actually helping me out a lot. At first it didn’t seem like the professor was going in a very logical progression, but I think that the real problem was I wasn’t trusting his teaching style.
Good luck, I hope you’ve found something that works for you!

I dont know that this applies to you , but as a physics tutor I feel obliged to share my two cents.
Most of the students I tutor (college level) seem to have some or a lot of their concepts learned by repetition. By that I mean the concepts learned during high school or earlier. I have focussed their attention on those concepts so they can correct them first.
For instance a lot of the students have problems with magnetism and electricity in general. But I try to point out that their first concepts were not entirely correct.
Solution: Re Read some fundamental concepts again and try to visualize them. Takes a little more time but not really a choice (IMO). I usually try to provide a deeper level of mathematical derivation of the concept for them to relate to it. The derivation helps to solidify the concept but certainly not needed.
I can offer some notes and examples/derivations should you need them.
Good luck and it can be done.