This is not what I thought they meant by "reading books"… March 21, 2007Posted by gordonwatts in university.
That is a stack of calculus based text books waiting for me when I return to UW week after next. And that is just the start of the stack. I’m sure there will be more added to it by the time I return. It is the end of the year, and the committee that coordinates the large calculus based physics courses is going to, perhaps, change from the Knight book. And guess who is a member of this committee?
Why can’t we settle on a book? Well, the basic problem is that we don’t uncover lots of the problems until we use the book. Knight, for example, was a book we thought was very neat when we first saw it. Now that we have used it for 2 years we are seriously considering other text books.
Deciding is hard. The books are very similar. You can look for obvious quality problems (rotational motion is a good one — hard to get right). Then there is the books philosophy — how they approach the topic. Most are mainstream, but sometimes you get something radical.
I personally have a tough time with this: it is boring reading how reference frames are taught in 7 different text books, comparing the difficulty of home work problems, trying to guess if the students will find the figures in book A better than book B. But we have to do it — besides paying for the course credits/tuition, this is the single largest expense the students have for our course.