Team Physics Overview

This section of University Physics uses an instructional method ("SCALE-UP") originated at North Carolina State University ( and adapted to "Team Physics" at RIT.

The underlying philosophy of this course can be summed up by the following saying:

Tell me–I forget.

Show me–I remember

Involve me–I understand

Much of the work you do will be in groups of 3. You will need to learn how to work effectively in groups, and how to enable others to work effectively. I will assign groups and rearrange them after each exam.

  1. Most of the time you will be actively involved in learning activities -- work sheets, problems, short and long experiments and simulations.
  2. You must learn the qualitative aspects of physics as well as how to solve problems. Physics is not just a collection of formulas that work only for physics problems and not the real world. Exams will include quantitative and qualitative questions.
  3. You will be expected to be an active participant in class. You are responsible to yourself and to your group members. Your group will generate a contract for itself.
  4. A variety of computer applications will be used in this course: EXCEL (spreadsheet), LoggerPro (data acquisition), Videopoint (video analysis), and Interactive Physics (simulation). A website will contain the day-to-day activities and handouts. Some of your homework will be submitted and graded on-line with WebAssign.

Collaborative Work

The ability to work in groups as well as alone is critical to the success of scientists and engineers work. This course encourages collaborative teamwork, a skill that is valued by employers. As you study together, help your partners to overcome confusions, ask each other questions, and critique your group homework and lab write-ups. Teach each other! You can learn a great deal by teaching.

While collaboration is the rule in technical work, individual work also plays an important role. Quizzes, exams, and preliminary lab reports in this course are to be done without help from others.

Roles in a group include manager, to organize the work and make certain everyone understands his or her job, recorder, to prepare the final solution, and skeptic/checker, to check the final solutions for correctness and to verify that everyone in the group understands all the solutions. These roles must rotate so that every member of the group experiences each role.

It is worthwhile to write a group contract (sample contracts will be available on the web) to prevent confusion. Periodically you will evaluate the health of your group.

In-Class Group Activities

During each class there will be one or more activities to be done as a group. You will usually submit a summary at the end of class. Provided that you show serious effort, you will get full credit. Be sure that everyone in the group understands the activity and can do it. (Don't let one person always run the computer applications etc!)

Some of the problems that you will work on in groups in class are "context-rich." These involve making estimations and assumptions, researching on the web, and completing fairly complicated calculations.

Homework Assignments

WebAssign is an automated problem presentation and grading program. Most of the WebAssign problems will be of two types: Qualitative, including questions based on the reading in the text, and Quantitative, questions with numeric or symbolic answers. Access at If you purchased the softbound RIT-packaged text, it will have a webassign card in the packing. Otherwise you will need to purchase an access card either online or at the bookstore (textbook information desk.)

Written Assignments will be handed in. While you can use your groups or other friends to assist you, you are individually responsible for doing the homework and understanding it.


You are responsible for reading the textbook. The exams will be based on your reading as well as what we do in class. Some form of check-off tests based on reading may be used from time to time.


Hands-on, inquiry-based activities during the class period will allow you to uncover various aspects of a physics concept. Labs will vary in length and complexity. Labs will require some write-up. In some cases this is a simple 1-2 page document, one per group. Longer labs will require individual pre-labs showing calculations followed by a formal lab report (in groups) that should follow basic scientific report guidelines.

Notes You must keep concise notes for all in-class work. You should keep handouts in a 3-ring binder. I will make all of the class handouts on 3-hole punched paper.


Tests consist of questions pertaining to the previously assigned material. You will receive a list of objectives for each test. Tests will include qualitative and quantitative questions, and may include questions covered by the experiments that you do.

The final exam will be cumulative, but you will be given some choices of questions to do.

How to do well in this course--comments of students from previous quarters.

1) Don't miss any classes

2) Do the homework attentively

3) Don't give up

Ask questions.

Keep on top of the work.

Know the math ahead of time.

1.) Make sure you understand the homework, examples in class, and WebAssigns. They are the tests.

2.) Studying is always a good thing (and not ten minutes before the test begins).

3.) Rinse and Repeat

1) keep up to date

2) Get in a good group that you can work with


Keep ahead. Don't do things at the last minute.

Stay on top of the homework

Ask questions of your group if you get confused.

If that doesnt work, ask the teacher himself.

1: Do the work!

2: Go to class!

3: Do the work more!

Return to Instructor Homepage
adapted from Prof. Vern Lindberg and Prof. Anne Young
This page maintained by Chris O'Dea. Last modified 07-Oct-2004 .