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TAing the PHYS 60 series lab section

The PHYS 60 series is a three-course calculus-based introductory sequence for students with very strong preparation in physics (AP Physics C or similar calculus-based college Physics) and mathematics (AP Calculus BC or similar college-based calculus).  

  • PHYS 61:  Mechanics and Special Relativity; taught Autumn quarter
  • PHYS 63:  Electricity and magnetism and optics; taught Winter quarter
  • PHYS 65:  Quantum mechanics and thermodynamics; taught Spring quarter

In addition to the lecture, there are three lab courses that are associated with the lecture courses for the PHYS 60 series:

  • PHYS 62:  Mechanics lab; this is a project-based lab that is taught in the Autumn quarter.
  • PHYS 64:  Electricity and magnetism lab; this is a more traditional lab that is taught in the Winter quarter.
  • PHYS 67:  Modern physics, optics, thermodynamics lab; this lab focuses on error propagation and data analysis and is taught in the Spring quarter.

For AY 2017-18, TA RESPONSIBILITIES for the lecture courses, PHYS 61, 63, and 65 TAS  ARE LISTED HERE

Lab Section TAs:

The introductory physics labs are pass/fail and have their own syllabi.  Students sign up for the lab course independently of the lecture course.  Like the discussion sections, the labs are interactive and student-driven.  After a brief introduction to the material and equipment, students work in groups of two on the lab. Rather than passively waiting for students to call on him/her, the TA is actively checking in with students to make sure they understand concepts.  This is often done by asking students a question that is an extension of the lab activity that they may have just completed.  If students appear confused, the TAs usually engage students in their own learning by asking them Socratic questions and demonstrating techniques that they can use to be convinced that they are (or are not) on the right track.  Much of the curriculum developed for these classes follows the philosophy of Physics Education Research, which promotes active learning.

Lab TAs attend mandatory weekly TA meetings at which the entire teaching staff discusses strategies for the upcoming week, identifies areas that may confuse students, and discusses strategies to help students.

PHYS 60 series lab sections TAs have a 25% appointment with the following duties:

  • Attend mandatory weekly TA meeting.
  • Complete additional preparation for lab section as needed -- this includes doing the lab yourself, testing equipment, and troubleshooting.
  • Lead one two-hour lab sections each week.
  • Lead an additional two-hour lab section OR hold two hours office as the discussion section TAs do.
  • Grade weekly lab reports and return them at the beginning of the following lab period.  If a student needs to re-do a lab or report, the student should receive feedback even earlier.
  • Help to test-run and proof-read midterm and final exams, and administration of exams.
  • Attend grading sessions for midterm and final exams to grade exams and enter scores. 
  • Help with miscellaneous tasks 

TAs should plan to spend 10 hours per week averaged over the quarter.