General Physics I (PH 101)
Spring 2007

Instructor: Andreas Piepke (202A Gallalee; 348-6066)
Office hours: 11:00 am to 12:00 am Wednesday. I have an open door policy. You may see me whenever I am in my office.
Graduate Assistant: Tetyana Konak (215 Gallalee; 348-2065)
Office hours: Monday, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Undergraduate Assistant: Dan Mitchell
Class time and place: Lectures: Monday and Wednesday 1:00 pm to 2:50 pm in room 203 (Gallalee Hall).
Recitation: Friday 1:00 pm to 1:50 pm in the same location as the class
Text used: Serway and Faughn, College Physics, 7th edition
Prerequisite: MATH 100
Credit: 4 hours
PH101 Web site:

Learning Objectives:

This class is an algebra based introduction to general physics, comprised of a lecture and a lab segment. It will introduce scientific methods for finding and reporting facts about nature. The laboratory part of the class will introduce you to measurement techniques (the fact finding), you will learn about data handling and analysis. In physics, observations are reported using mathematics as language. The lecture sections will emphasize this approach. It will further be practiced in the homework. The lecture part will be a formal but brief introduction of the class subjects and will contain worked out examples (problems), similar to those assigned in the homework and exams.
During this course, students should develop a qualitative and quantitative understanding of basic mechanics, conservation laws, oscillations, waves, and thermal physics; phenomena encountered in daily life. The quantitative treatment of these topics will be emphasized. This approach should help students to develop their general problem solving skills. Click here to get a class schedule.

Mathematical preparation:

The understanding of basic mathematics, as covered e.g. in Math 100, is an essential class pre-requisite. It is expected that the students are familiar with algebra, quadratic equations, systems of equations, trigonometry, powers and logarithms. Knowledge of calculus will not be required to follow this class. You are urged to consult the free online service ALEKS that assesses your mathematical readiness. If you find you are not, this service can be used (for a fee) as a tutorial to help get you prepared. Math for Physics is located in the Adult and Continuing Education section.

Class Format:

The course will emphasize fundamental concepts and problem-solving techniques in physics, using interactive instruction, computer-based techniques, and cooperative learning. There will be no separate lab and lecture section. The course will be team taught by a faculty member (Piepke) and a graduate teaching assistant (Konak). During classes on Monday and Wednesday there will be a mix of short lectures and group activities. Electronic lecture notes will be provided on the web as the class goes on. The lecture notes will not cover class room examples, which will be presented on the white board. It is a good idea to keep notes as some of the in-class examples will be similar to the exam problems. This should encourage class attendance.
It is expected that the students read the appropriate textbook sections before class. This is essential for being able to follow the class and for achieving a good grade. The lectures will not cover all the class material. Because of the time limitations lectures are necessarily brief. The students should use the class time to clarify questions regarding the reading material. This can happen through discussion with their peers or the instructor. Short quizzes will be administered on a regular basis to reinforce this learning concept. Quizzes will be administered using electronic clickers. The average result of the clicker tests will count 5% of the final grade. A clicker test may precede a class to test whether the students have read the appropriate textbook sections.
The group activities will include lab experiments, mostly using the computer for data acquisition and analysis, and other short `exercises'. The exercises will consist of real-world problems and computer simulations. The one-hour Friday class will be a `recitation' devoted to problem solving and preparation for the lab experiments.

Students are expected to find and print out their own copies of each activity before the class period. The manuals can be down-loaded from the web site of PH101. Students should not expect to be able to print out a copy in the classroom. It is very important to read and understand the experiment instruction before coming to class. A clicker test may precede the lab section. Experience shows that the students typically need some time to understand how to properly use the equipment. There is just not enough time to also study the physics content of the labs during class time. Every student has to turn in a written lab report describing the results of his/her experimental work. These reports will be graded.


Problems are assigned weekly (usually on Monday) and are due Monday 12:00 pm. This gives the weekend after recitation to work on the homework. Late work will not be accepted. Every set of homework problems will count 1 point. The problem solutions must be submitted on the web, using a service called Web Assign. You can access Web Assign using any web browser. On this page choose Log In. You will be prompted for your username (two initials plus your last name, all lower case), your institution (this is ua), and your password. Your initial password is equal to your student ID. Please make sure to change it when you first log in. Web Assign is free with a new textbook. If you didn't buy a textbook you need to buy an access code (available on their web site). Click here to get a brief tutorial on how to get started. You have from now to 2/1/2007 to enroll. After that you will need to come to me for late enrollment.
Web Assign will give you instant feedback on the correctness of your solution. Students can resubmit solutions up to a maximum of five attempts. The numerical values of the problem are different for each student and will be changed when a solution is resubmitted. The first Friday recitation session will be devoted to explaining how to use Web Assign.

It is important to understand how to work a problem and not just check the boxes. Students must keep a notebook of how they work each problem and be prepared to turn this in for spot grading as requested. Although students may collaborate when working problems, each student must keep a record of problem solutions (not just answers) and should submit their own answers- based on the particular numbers in their problems.

It has been observed that some students were able to obtain a solutions manual for these problems. This will, of course, improve the homework grades. However, it has also been observed that these students perform very poorly in the exams as they have not really learned how to solve problems. Such a homework strategy will thus lead to failure and is strongly discouraged. The homework is there help you learn the class subjects. You can only do so by confronting your problems. In case of trouble with the homework feel free to see me in my office.


Multiple choices quizzes will be administered during class using electronic clickers. The clickers will be provided free of charge for your use in this class. The clickers are located in room 203 and are to remain there at all times. The clickers are in a numbered shelf. At the beginning of the semester one clicker will be associated with each individual student. You will need to write down the number of your individual clicker in order to receive credit for you quizzes and class attendance. If you forget your clicker number you will not be able to participate in the quiz and cannot receive credit.
During the clicker registration, at the beginning of the semester, you will have to write down you name, the clicker number and serial number on a paper and hand it to your instructor. This way there will be a double record of the clicker assignment.
Each answer to a clicker quiz will receive 3 points credit. One point will be given for any answer, to acknowledge class attendance. A correct answer will receive a 3 point credit. The average point score, received divided by total possible will enter into your final class grade. Each student is to use his or her clicker only. Any use of additional clicker e.g. for a friend will be counted as academic misconduct.

Attendance and Makeup Policy:

Students are expected to attend the classes. Regular attendance is a crucial element in being able to pass the exams. Studies have shown a clear and direct correlation of attendance with grades. Graded clicker quizzes will be administered regularly to encourage attendance.
No makeup of in-class work or exams will be given. If you have a legitimate reason for missing a major exam, then you must inform the instructor as soon as possible. If the reason is acceptable, then the final exam will count proportionately more. The two lowest grades on in-class exercises, recitation work and homework will be dropped. This will allow a limited number of missed classes regardless of the reason.


Two exams will be administered: Wednesday, February 14, (1:00 pm to 2:50 pm) and Wednesday, March 21 (1:00 pm to 2:50 pm). The comprehensive final exam is scheduled for Thursday May 10 (3:30 pm to 6:00 pm). The exams will take place in room 200 of Gallalee Hall. In all exams all work must be done in pen in an exam book that will be provided. Any work in pencil will be discarded. Students may use a pocket calculator and one equation sheet (letter size). The exam results will be published in the PH101 box in the hallway.


Homework problems will be submitted electronically each Monday. In-class work will be collected at the end of each class period and will count as part of the course grade. Not all in-class work will be graded in detail. Short quizzes will be during each recitation class. They will be based on in-class work done during the week and the most recently submitted problem assignment. Problem notebooks may be collected occasionally on Friday for spot-checking. There will be no makeup of missed class work.
There will be no scaling or curving of grades in this class. To add some flexibility the two lowest lab, homework, recitation and clicker quiz grades will be dropped. All grade bonuses are thus given up-front.

Grading Policy

Letter Grade
Numerical Grade

(Min. percentage points)




Superior ability or attainment significantly beyond all minimum expectations (93%)






Good ability or attainment which meets and exceeds many minimum expectations (83%)






Ability or attainment which is acceptable and meets all minimum (required) expectations (73%)






Ability or attainment which does not meet all minimum (required) expectations (63%)




Attainment of some but not a number of important minimum expectations and is, thus, not appropriate for a minimum professional level of performance (0-59%).

Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to follow the Code of Student Conduct, as laid down by The University of Alabama. All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct. In particular each student is expected to do his/her own work on quizzes and exams. Misuse of the clickers will be treated as an act of dishonesty. Suspected violators of this policy will be referred to the Dean's Office in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students are encouraged to work together when studying and preparing for homework.

Disability Accommodations

To request disability accommodations, please contact Disability Services (348-4285). After initial arrangements are made with that office, contact Dr. Piepke.

Tentative Schedule:

A tentative class schedule can be found on the web (click here). It may be adjusted to keep both sections of PH101 synchronized.