Physics Tutor

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by VRSCDX, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. VRSCDX

    VRSCDX Member

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    2 Weeks ago our Plebe was SUPER SUPER STRESSED about a Physics I test. He did quite well, but credits 16 hours of studying with another Plebe and 2 visits to a GREAT Tutor with his success. As I understand it 13 of the 22 Plebes in his class failed that Physics Test. There is another test Friday 1/29/10. Our Plebe is SUPER SUPER STRESSED once again. Only this time, he says there is no Tutor to turn to for help. The Tutor he loved last time has, in the meantime, quit. The instructor says he is going to break his record of failing 11 of 22 students in the class this Tri. I don't exactly likely the stats or the perception I have of the record keeping. As a former Army Officer I was proud of good stats. Obviously these Plebe's need help. Where's the tutor? What can a Plebe do or who can they turn to for help? I don't post often, but when I have seen how hard our Plebe worked last time to do well and realize he does not know who to turn to this time, I'm not feeling very good about it. My job as a parent, "To Encourage." Well last time my encouragement was to go to the tutor. This time - "What?" I told him to get with his buddy and teach each other. Read the book and self teach. I sure don't know who that tutor was who helped last time, but in my home, that person was a Saint. Now they are Saint Nowhere.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  2. Navy1981

    Navy1981 Member

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    Don't rule out the teacher himself as a source of assistance. My plebe did physics last trimester and bombed a test big time. Final was only a couple of weeks away. Sounds like he had same teacher. Advised him to talk to the instructor. My theory being that showing active interest in your performance shows the teacher you care. Teacher sat down with my plebe and gave lots of advice and guidance. Bottom line was that he did well enough on final to get a C in the course.
     
  3. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Not being an alum of USMMA, I may be out of the loop here, but what kind of teacher brags about failing half of his students? One would think, if half of the people don't pass, that there is a bit of a problem either with the tests or with instruction. If I were the teacher, I'd be embarrassed that I failed to provide an adequate foundation so that the majority of students could pass.

    I suppose these type of professors exist all over the place. At VMI there were a few profs who had unflattering nicknames due to their tendency to hand out a fair amount of Fs...half the class, though? Ouch. Seems like this instructor needs to reevaluate his teaching skills, and realize that he is paid to teach students and not fail them. I may be off base, I dunno. As I said, I don't have any connection with USMMA or how their academic program operates. Students clearly have a responsibility to prepare for tests, but if there is a 50% failure rate, the blame can't be placed totally with midshipmen.
     
  4. USMMADISTANCE

    USMMADISTANCE Member

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    Its pretty tough with this professor when he can't remember one single name in the section that he is teaching.
     
  5. proudmomcolorado

    proudmomcolorado Member

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    physics

    Dear VRSCDX,

    I sent you a pm.
     
  6. donar

    donar Member

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    Kahn Academy

    I don't know if any of the videos address the problem areas your Plebe is having trouble with, but you should be aware of
    http://khanacademy.org/
    This web site has over 100 ten minute "YouTube" tutorial videos on Physics (and a other math related subjects) and they are very good. This resource has been mentioned in other posts, but in case you missed it .. check it out.
     
  7. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I would be hard pressed to believe that a professor at KP has failed half or more of his/her class on a regular basis. Even some of the most difficult professors at KP over time (Sembler, Hard, etc, etc) have failed their fair share of students; however, the vast majority have passed. The Dean will not tolerate a professor who has such a record.

    I seriously doubt any midshipman how many people actually ended up failing a class. A rough guess, sure, but remember, stories grow over time. I have found that alot of that type of talk is a bit of a scare tactic from a professor to make sure the people are studying. Now, more than half a section failing a midterm, sure, that has definitely happened.

    Remember grading scales change from professor to professor. If I remember correctly it was some of Sembler's classes were a passing grade would be something that was well within failing limits of most classes.
     
  8. kpbaseballmom

    kpbaseballmom Member

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    If this is the Russian physics teacher, my DS also said that half the class failed last year. In addition, the teacher took a week off during the semester (not during the break) to go to Russia. His solution for being out of the classroom for a week was to speed up the course material, as if it wasn't fast enough in a trimester. With tenure, the admin can do nothing about teachers who could care less how many pass and how many fail. They are paid regardless. In addition, the Russian teacher lapses into Russian both in his speech and what he writes on the board.
     
  9. NewGarnet56

    NewGarnet56 New Member

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    Physics

    Thank you KP2001 for your voice of reason. But, are you saying that different professors have different grading scales at KP for the same subject? I am surprised at that when plebes are setback or disenrolled over failures that there is not a standard grading scale utilized for a course, regardless of which section you are in. Do you find there is much variance between the professors of a subject (Physics 1 being this topic) in what they actually teach and cover of the material? And, do the professors end up curving grades when class averages are so low?

    My plebe utilized the physics tutor earlier in the trimester also, just to keep at a passing grade. He has really struggled since the tutor left. Last physics test- class average was a 50. My son is now failing this particular class, despite study groups, study hall, test reviews and many hours of studying. No doubt Physics sinks many of the plebes, and it might sink him. But, these are bright young men and women who are highly motivated to learn and succeed. Such class averages still indicate to me that there indeed are professors there that seem to be unwilling or unable to teach.
     
  10. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I can't speak for this particular teacher or this particular class; however, it has been my experience over the years that somehow the vast majority of midshipmen who are struggling at midterms somehow pass at the end of the semester.

    Now, don't take this to mean that everyone passes or there can't be "large" numbers of failures; however, in my day one of the professors mentioned above would have a final class average of around 50 or less. The grade for a D was ridiculously low simply because of how he tested and graded.

    Most departments have some sort of standardization between professors of the same course; however, I have seen wild variations in what is actually taught. At one time (may still) the physics department had a standard final that was given amongst all sections of every professor. For wild variations one could look to one of my calculus instructors, Dr. Dellwo. He taught calculus I like I have never seen it and I took precalc and calc in high school. His was very esoteric and the other calc teachers were very different. There was standardization between what subjects we were taught, but each professor was left to their own on how to teach it.

    As mentioned above I bet if you were to get hold of this particular professors end of semester grades for the last several years and actually see how many people failed the class it would likely be considerably lower than what midshipmen think it is. I have no proof of this, but just a few years experience on what midshipmen think and talk about. I also have a good notion that the Dean would not allow this to happen and as I doubt he is tenured (again alot aren't) so he would be let go.
     
  11. 2013Parent

    2013Parent Member

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    My son is in this boat.

    It is not shaping up well for him and if you believe what others are saying, (and I think we can) he is not alone. IF he manages to pass by whisker, I wonder what he will have really learned.

    He is stressed about this class because his grade is low. His grade is low because___________________fill in the blank.
    A. He is not smart enough to figure out what is required
    B. His study habits are poor
    C. He does not care.
    D. There is room for improvement of the course delivery.

    Bottom line: Whether you pick a,b,c or d, if he fails he will be the only one responsible and he will pay the price. Welcome to the real world son.
     
  12. Texmom

    Texmom Member

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    NewGarnet56: sent you a PM
     
  13. 2013Parent

    2013Parent Member

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    Thanks for the PM's folks.
     
  14. Spunkymac

    Spunkymac Member

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    Complaining to the Dean

    What about complaining to the Dean of Academics or taking it to some higher authority?
     
  15. KPMarineopsdad

    KPMarineopsdad Member

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    I would hesitate to call the Academy for any issue concerning my midshipman unless he were in the hospital with a major medical problem or if a death in the family had occured and I could not get in touch with him any other way.
    We do our kids no favors when we call on their behalf. You got them this far now it is time to let go.
     
  16. KP13Mom

    KP13Mom Member

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    AMEN!:thumb:
     
  17. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    My 2 cents....

    My reaction to this thread and it's thoughts is much the same as KP2001, keeping in mind I graduated 19 years prior to him and my own DS was a plebe last year.

    Where can they get help - from each other or midshipmen tutors. Also talking to the professor does usually help albeit varying degrees.

    However, keep in mind Calculus and Physics are indeed the "Plebe Killers" so the affected Mids need to not get down on themselves, try not to stress out but continue working at it. It might not be easy and there certainly are no guarantees, however, if they give up, they clearly won't pass.

    Also I have no information other than what life was like "back in the day" and the fact that over the past two years there has been a movement to change a few things back to more like "back in the day." Starting with the Class of 2012, the number of admitted Plebes was increased back up to ~300, and it was a stated desire to raise the academic as well as regimental standards and reduce the number of setbacks. We had similar things going on in the early eighties and this translated into frankly more "washouts" plebe year than say were the norm in the late nineties and at the turn of the millennium. So, the professor may in fact be responding to Administration desires as well as KP2001 says trying to scare the class to study harder so he really doesn't have to fail so many...I know counter-intuitive and for sure to cause even more stress to the members of the class but in a strange illogical Kings Point way this could make sense.

    What can you parents do - encourage them, offer them calm words and advice, worry for/with them, and if it suits you pray.

    Calling the Dean/Acting Supt. isn't likely to help, especially if the Professor has tenure.

    Wishing them all good Luck as we now have what 4 weeks left in this trimester?
     
  18. kpbaseballmom

    kpbaseballmom Member

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    Heard from DS that the Dean is trying to hire a new physics tutor shortly. Let's hope it happens before finals. It's too bad that the long time tutor who was well regarded felt he had to leave.
     
  19. 2013Parent

    2013Parent Member

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    Please elaborate, I do not understand.

    Are you saying "the professor has been given a number he must fail to meet a goal/desire?"

    Surely not.
     
  20. KP13Mom

    KP13Mom Member

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