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Re: Aims of a Freshamn Physics Course

I would offer a very different set of goals, at least for a course intended
for students NOT continuing in science. The goals should be
exactly the same as for an intro writing course:

Delvelop the ability to construct a multi-step logical argument.
ability to deduce a mechanism from observations of the system's behaviour
Be able to integrate several concepts to explain more complicated situations
be able to communicate results clearly, whetther in speech, in writing, using
math, or with figures.
At the very bottom of the list comes: learn some physics, it might be useful.

On occasion, i even tell students that i really don't care if they remember
ANY physics a year after they take the course, but i hope that the skills
listed above will stay with them for the remainder of their lives.

Of course if the class is for science students, the last item moves up a position.

This ties in well with the recent discussion on the responsibility of
departments to teach to the MCATS. Don't do it, i say. Physics is
on the exam because students need to take physics; we shouldn't teach physics because it's on the exam!!