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Re: [Phys-l] Premed Requirements Commentary

One of the important questions is what do they actually get from the
deprecated courses. It is assumed that the ability to think more clearly,
do research... are outcomes.

Unfortunately these assumed outcomes are probably not results of taking
physics and calculus. Since the average gain on the FCI is 25% or lower for
the typical course, they come out of physics with little understanding of
NTN1, 2, 3. As to the ability to think, most courses really do not build
good problem solving skills. The typical cookbook verification labs hardly
build any ability to do research. Perhaps they have awakened to the fact
that these courses are not necessary for the standard MD program. The one
outcome that is successful is the weedout effect.

Since no pre and post testing is generally done on the ability to think
there is scant evidence that this has increased. At present the only
readily available test for this is the Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific
Thinking. Nobody has published any demonstrated significant gain due to
physics courses. I have seen significant gain in a reformed course, but it
is a lot lower than desirable. It has been reported at various AAPT

So given the admission by Feynman that students are not learning the
concepts, it is no wonder that medical schools are dubious about some of
these gateway courses. I think it is up to us to prove them wrong.

At my son's college the physics profs are held in low regard by the
engineering dept. They have stated that the engineers only really learn
physics when they get into their mechanics course. Actually, the mechanics
course is so conventional, that it is doubtful that physics is really well
learned there. It is just that the general physics courses are poorly
taught by comparison.

We have met the enemy and he is us!

John M. Clement
Houston, TX