TL;DR I have begun using oral interviews as a replacement for traditional written tests and quizzes. There are many advantages for faculty and students, including elimination of paperwork, better chances for understanding students’ state of comprehension, a more relaxed environment, and no possibility for gaming for points. The ongoing pandemic has amplified many questions I […]

Read More Oral Interviews as Assessment
Unpack this ZIP file and upload the six files therein into your Overleaf project folder. Read sections 4 (Overleaf Users) and 5 (Student Quick Guide) for further instructions on how to get up and running.

Read More overleaf-template.zip
I’ve spent a lot of time lately updating my mandi LaTeX package and I decided to eliminate every warning I saw when building the package. TeX and LaTeX errors and warnings are notorious for being vague so I had to do a lot of Googling to get solutions for them. Some errors and warnings have […]

Read More LaTeX: My Most Frequent Problems and Fixes
I think my students and I finally got some things right this semester. Too bad it only took twenty-five years, but I’ll take it anyway. Rather than wallow in self pity, I’ll just get right to it. My students and I have finally mainstreamed special relativity as the starting point in introductory calculus-based physics. There […]

Read More What I Think My Students and I Got Right This Semester
I’m getting the jump on this week for a change! This week is all about assessments and building solution portfolios. Taking a cue from something I saw in Kip Thorne’s graduate course on gravitational waves, I’m experimenting with a new way of letting students learn. Here’s the document that I gave students. Here’s the deal. […]

Read More Matter & Interactions I, Week 12
Beginning this semester, my physics (introductory calculus-based physics) class is using LaTeX for writing up solutions. Rather than installing TeX Live (MacTeX) on every machine, we’re using Overleaf because it seems to work on desktops, laptops, and tablets (at least as far as I can tell). I give students a ZIP file containing five files, […]

Read More LaTeX: My Materials for Students
This is the first post of a series of sixteen in which I will attempt to describe the weekly goings on in my introductory calculus-based physics course. You probably already know that I use Matter & Interactions for this course, and I have since 1999. In fact, I was the first instructor in North Carolina […]

Read More Matter & Interactions I, Week 1
Over the past three years or so, I have been researching the history and implementation of Gibbsian vector analysis with the intent of finding ways to incorporate it more thoroughly and more meaningfully into introductory calculus-based physics (possibly algebra/trig-based physics too). Understanding the usual list of vector identities has been part of this research. One […]

Read More HELP! A Stubborn Vector Identity to Understand
I have come to believe that the terminology and notation used in introductory physics should be as precise and as descriptive as possible. Music terminology and notation are both of those things and this makes learning to read music easier than learning physics. Play what the notation says, and the notation says what to play. […]

Read More Let’s Treat Position and Velocity As Nothing Special
Tensors have always been mysterious to me. When I was an undergraduate, I was mesmerized by the sheer elegance of tensor notation and yet didn’t understand the first thing about it. As a graduate student in physics, I was frustrated to hear every professor whom I asked to explain tensors to me reply that he […]

Read More How This Blog Was Named