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[Phys-L] Re: Goals of the Introductory Course

While depth is definitely desirable, it can not be achieved without
"interactive engagement". If you cover less material and do not use the IE
techniques, you will find that less really is less. The most important
factor is the pedagogy that works rather than the amount of material

Actually the traditional course typically had the same topics 40 years ago
as it does today, so I would say that the mile wide and an inch deep has
always been the rule in the US. At least at the HS level the U.Mass Amherst
group recommends that mechanics should cover 1 to 1.5 semesters, and they do
not advocate much coverage of rotational mechanics. The Modeling people at
AZ State agree that it is ok for some courses to never get to topics beyond
mechanics. The amount of coverage should depend on what the students can
do, and whether it is possible to achieve good understanding.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

I'm hoping to create a leaner curriculum for this course; a "less is
more" approach.

Let me address this one point out of a much longer note.

This drags us squarely into the proverbial breadth-versus-
depth discussion. There are good arguments in favor of
breadth, and there are good arguments in favor of depth,
but you can't be broad and deep and introductory all at

Presently it seems the pendulum has in most places swung
too far toward breadth at the expense of depth.
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