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# Re: Crib Sheets

• From: "JACK L. URETSKY (C) 1996; HEP DIV., ARGONNE NATIONAL LAB, ARGONNE, IL 60439" <JLU@hep.anl.gov>
• Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 23:58:41 -0600 (CST)

Hi all-
Comment stimulated by Richard Goode's posting:
************************************************************
I don't allow crib sheets in my physics classes. I do provide them with a
formula sheet that grows larger throughout the year. Each chapter, new
equations are added. No equations are ever removed from the list. They are
required to do any algebra to transform the basic equations. They are required
to know all relevant constants. Even with this aid, I find they spend less
time relying on the formula sheet as the year progresses.
***********************
I think that students should learn (by heart) principles, but not
definitions. So, in the year that I tried allowing crib sheets, I gave
the sudents the material that was permitted on the crib sheets. For
example, Q=CV defines capacitance, C. Nobody should be obliged to memorize
that, because logically it would have made as much sense to define Q=V/C.
On the other hand, all of the force laws are of the form:
^F = KQ_1Q_2^r/r^3, where ^r or ^F denote vectors
, the Q's are charges, and K is a constant that gets the units right. This
is a fundamental principle, like Newton's laws, that are worthy of
memorization.
Why do I believe this? Because these are things that I think
are important enough to be part of the culture of a person who has
been through my physics course. Otherwise, why bother?
A seventh-grade teacher once required me to memorize "Snowbound",
punctuation and all. "The sun, that brief December day, rose, cheerless,
over hills of gray, and, darkly-circled, gave at noon a sadder light than
waning moon;....." (and I'm quoting from memory - somebody can tell me
what I've gotten wrong after 61 years). That teachers taught me the
importance of punctuation as one of the tools of effective communication.
I am profoundly grateful to her for that lesson.
Moral: If it's really important, then learn it!
Regards,
Jack