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Study Tips

How to be successful in this course.  The experience of past students in taking online physics courses leads to the following short list of things you need to do to be successful in the course. They're not presented in order of importance.
  1. Read/study the text and online materials thoroughly.
  2. Communicate frequently. Don't postpone asking for help or clarification. Read and post to the discussion forums frequently.
  3. Start your homework well before the due date and complete it a day in advance if possible. This will give you time to ask for help if necessary.
  4. Read/study the feedback that the teacher provides on homework assignments. This will help you understand any mistakes and avoid making them again.
  5. Use your human resources wisely. We're talking about other students and people you may go to for help. You know these resources are working well for you if--after a tutorial or study session--you can solve the problems without assistance.

Here is additional information...

Read thoroughly.  Your primary content resource is the textbook Physics, 3rd edition, by James S. Walker.  In a traditional classroom, you may be used to having the teacher deliver course material in lectures.  In an online course, there's much more responsibility on you, the student, to read the text material. 

Do the online chapter reviews and practice problems.  In face-to-face instruction, the teacher provides direction during the class on which areas to concentrate study and also provides opportunities for directed practice.  It's important to realize that the online chapter reviews and practice problems carry out these functions that would otherwise occur in a traditional classroom.  Therefore, in order to learn the material well, you need to work through these reviews and do the practice problems regularly.  The teacher will remind you frequently to do them but can't be watching over your shoulder to make sure you're working.

Keep a notebook.  You're used to hearing teachers tell you to keep a notebook, but that's even more important in an online course. Use a 3-ring binder.  Keep notes as you read through the textbook.  Include printed copies of online materials and make notes in the margins.  Write your problem solutions and keep written work that is returned to you. As in a traditional class, carry your notebook between your room and class so that you have that resource always available to you. If you're having trouble with physics, The teacher is likely to ask to see your notebook to find out if you're using it effectively.

Write out your problem solutions.  In an online course with electronic problem sets, it's easy to get in the bad habit of quickly scratching out solutions to problems and then losing track of the scratch work. That's the wrong way to do problems.  The textbook as well as the teacher provides strategies for successful problem solving.  These involve writing out the solutions step-by-step.  You'll become a successful problem solver by using these strategies, and you'll be better prepared for the AP test, which will require you to demonstrate that you've mastered the problem-solving strategies.  You'll be submitting some problem solutions on paper to the teacher most weeks, but it's important to realize that whether or not the teacher sees your written work, you need to be using good problem-solving techniques. More information about these techniques will be provided as you need them.

Know when to work independently and when to collaborate.  Doing physics is something done by individuals as well as by groups of individuals. In order to master the subject, you have to learn to do problems independently (on your own).  Otherwise, you can't expect to do well on tests, where you must work alone. Any good student calls on a variety of resources in order to master the subject. These resources include written works (the textbook, for example), the instructor, and other students. When you collaborate with other students, your goal should be to improve your understanding rather than simply to get the right answers to problems. You'll know that you've achieved the first goal when you're able to solve problems entirely on your own. Your test results will tell you whether you're being successful.

Take advantage of feedback from the teacher.  When the teacher provides you with evaluations of your work or when solutions to problems are posted online, take time to read the feedback or compare the online solutions to your own. This is how you learn to improve your work and avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

Ask for help.  You can make posts to the Lab & Problem discussion board where other students will see your question and may respond. Attend tutorials. Ask for one-on-one assistance from the teacher if needed.

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