Student FAQ

Physics 206 — Mechanics

Texas A&M University

Dept of Physics & Astronomy » PHYS 206 common webpage » Student FAQ

General

  1. What do I need to buy?

    Students are only required to have:

    1. access to Sapling Learning for the homework, pre-lecture videos and bridge assignments
    2. access to the i>clicker Reef for participation during lectures (whether in class or remote). You may download the app for your Apple or Android smartphone here: www.iclicker.com/students/apps-and-remotes/apps. You will likely sign up from within Sapling, but check with your instructor to be sure.

    We recommend that students purchase the customized package offered by Macmillan from the TAMU bookstore: a loose-leaf version of the textbook (Physics for Scientists and Engineers, vol. 1, 6th edition, by Mosca & Tipler; ISBN: 978-1319334420), access to Sapling Learning and access to the eBook for a semester, all for $80. An i>clicker may be added to this package for $5.99. Students may purchase access to Sapling during registration for $42, but this does not include the text or eBook; I believe the cost for one-semester access to the eBook is $38, so there's really no saving to the student unless they can obtain an inexpensive used copy of the text.

  2. Do I need to attend class in person?

    All sections of PHYS 206 this semester are online only.

  3. What are the rules for entering/exiting my classroom?

    This is a moot question since there are no in-person lectures this semester.

  4. Is there a lab component to this course?

    Neither PHYS 206 nor PHYS 207 (the 2nd part of introductory calculus-based physics) have a lab component to the course. There are separate Physics and Engineering course codes which are (just) labs; students should talk to their academic advisors on which (if any) of these lab courses they should take.

  5. Where can I view recordings of my instructor's Zoom lectures? Can I view recordings of other lectures?

    The link to all the information regarding Zoom meetings (for lectures, recitations, instructor/TA office hours and exams) is summarized here: https://mechanics.physics.tamu.edu/zoom-info-2021A.php. As the first midterm approaches (Feb 12), that page will be updated to include the Zoom meeting IDs for exams as well. Note that you may view any instructor's lectures (yours or any another); you may find it useful to get a different perspective on any topics you are not clear on.

  6. When are my instructor's/TA's office hours, and what is the Zoom meeting ID?

    The link to all the information regarding Zoom meetings (for lectures, recitations and instructor/TA office hours) is summarized here: https://mechanics.physics.tamu.edu/zoom-info-2021A.php. As the first midterm approaches (Feb 12), that page will be updated to include the Zoom meeting IDs for exams as well. Note that you may view any instructor's lectures (yours or any another); you may find it useful to get a different perspective on any topics you are not clear on.

Midterm and Comprehensive Exams

All of the exams this semester are multiple choice and will be administered online via eCampus through the Respondus LockDown Browser and proctored via Zoom, where you will also show your face next to your TAMU ID for identification purposes. You need (i) two devices – a laptop or computer to take the test in eCampus, and another (smartphone or tablet) to stream video via Zoom so proctors may monitor you for the duration of the exam; (ii) to register on Zoom for your specific section (see zoom-info-2021A.php); and (iii) a very stable (preferably wired) internet connection.

Some details/FAQs are listed below.

  1. What is the procedure for taking the online tests?
    1. Visit https://mechanics.tamu.edu/zoom-info-2021A.php, locate your section in the table under the "Exams" heading at the bottom, and click on the link to register through Zoom. If you have registered with Disability Services, do not use your section link; use the bottom row labelled "Disability". You will register with your name and your TAMU NetID email. On completion of the registration, you will reach a page that shows you the link to join the exam at the scheduled time. You will also get an email confirmation with the link and all the details. Also, the table has links to the Zoom meeting ID.
    2. The exam itself will be administered through eCampus, using the Respondus LockDown Browser. You should have installed this browser and tested it well before the exam (see How do I use Respondus? below).

      When you log in to eCampus (not Canvas!) using the LockDown Browser, you will see an "Access the test" link in the Content Area (the left side bar area). Click on it and your midterm exam will appear at 6:00 pm; it will disappear at 8:00 pm (6:00 pm and 9:00 pm for the Comprehensive). Note that students who have registered with Disability Services will have their appropriately extended times automatically set.
    3. On the day of the exam, you will use a smartphone or tablet to join Zoom at least 15 mins before the scheduled start time, and stay in the Waiting Room until your proctor admits you to the Zoom exam room. The camera on your phone/tablet will need to be on, but your audio should remain muted. The entire session will be recorded. You will need to show your student ID to the webcam for about 10 secs so that it is clearly visible and automatically documented. Your microphones will be randomly turned on and the ambience sound automatically recorded for brief periods. You should dress appropriately as if you were taking the exam in person. The video feed will be constantly recorded and audio feed will be randomly recorded to ensure a fair playing field without cheating. The camera of your phone/tablet must be set up to point to your desk, showing you, your computer monitor and desk with your scratch paper (no calculators or other reference material is allowed). An online copy of the formula sheet and access to an online scientific calculator will be the two external pages you are allowed to visit using the LockDown Browser; there are links to both of these in the Content Area of eCampus under where you accessed the test.
    4. Your proctor will admit all of you into the Zoom room at least 15 mins before the start of the exam. You can ask questions for clarifications during the exam by using the chat feature, visible to everyone including your proctor. Your proctor will respond through chat. The proctor may also make announcements through the chat window.
    5. Once you do the final submission on eCampus, it is same as turning in the exam when you are done in the physical space. There is no way to go back and change anything. You can submit early if you are done, but be sure to do so before the exam officially ends and the time has run out. You should always save your work after you answer every question. Just like the real exam, you do have access to all the questions and can answer them in any order you want. Do not submit your work after answering a question; be sure to use the save feature!
  2. How do I set up and use Respondus?

    In order to use Respondus Lockdown Browser when taking your exam, please read the following information:

    1. Install Respondus LockDown Browser
      The Respondus LockDown Browser may be installed on any Windows or Mac computer. Visit the LockDown Browser download for TAMU to access the download. Note we will not be using the webcam Monitor since you will be proctored by an instructor or TA via Zoom on your phone/tablet during the exam.

      Respondus LockDown Browser is NOT compatible with linux operating systems, including Google Chromebooks. Furthermore, the browser will not work when a Windows or Mac system is being run as a virtual machine. If you do not have a Windows or Mac OS running as the native system, you need to make accommodations to take the test on a different computer with LockDown Browser.
    2. Test your computer to make sure everything is working properly before the exam.
      After you log into eCampus using Respondus LockDown Browser, you can click the information bubble, located at the top of the browser. This will take you to the "Help Center", where you can run a comprehensive "System Check" on your computer and browser. Read more about the Help Center here: https://web.respondus.com/monitor-helpcenter/. At least a few days before the exam, we will set up a "debugging exam" for you to use to confirm there are no technical issues before the actual exam. Your instructor will send an eCampus announcement with more information.
    3. Check you can access allowed external links In the Content Area of your eCampus course, we have added a link to the formula sheet of the exam. You will be able to open this link in the LockDown Browser during the exam. Although the scientific calculator built into the browser has been enabled, it seems that it might not always be available; we have therefore also added a link to an online scientific calculator you may also access from the LockDown Browser during the exam. These are the only two external pages you may access. Be sure to check that you are able to access these two pages when testing your system with the debugging test prior to the exam.
    4. If the test start page is asking for a password
      This normally appears when you try to access the test through your usual browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc. As mentioned above, you can only access the test on eCampus using the Respondus LockDown Browser, which you must install as described above.
    5. If your Lockdown Browser freezes during a test
      It is recommended that you do not take a test using a wireless (Wi-Fi) connection. In case your browser freezes, read the following Knowledgebase page: LockDown Browser froze during a test and I cannot exit.

  3. May I use scratch paper, a printed formula sheet and a calculator during the exam?
    Scratch paper
    Yes, you can keep blank scratch papers in your work space to use during the test. It is important for you to flash those pages to the webcam, so it is documented as clean pages. Use good judgment and respond promptly if/when the proctor requests you to show your environment.
    Printed formula sheet
    No, you may not print a formula sheet. A link to the pdf is in the Content Area of eCampus which the LockDown Browser will allow you to open in a separate tab.
    Calculators
    You may not use your own physical calculator during the exam. The LockDown Browswer has a built-in scientific calculator which may be accessed via the far right icon of the top navigation panel of the LockDown Browswer:

    If that is not available for whatever reason, you may access the online scientific calculator using the link in the Content Area of eCampus above the link to the formula sheet.
  4. How do I work on eCampus and on Zoom?

    You will use a computer or laptop with the LockDown Browser installed to access the exam in eCampus. For online proctoring, you will connect to Zoom using a separate device (smartphone or tablet) with the camera pointed at you, your monitor and your workspace. You cannot use the same device running the LockDown Browser for Zoom because that is not allowed by the LockDown Browser.

  5. I lost or otherwise don't have my TAMU Student ID for identification at the start of the exam. What should I do?

    You may instead show any government-issued ID that includes a picture of you (i.e. your driver's license or passport). Please take care to hide any sensitive information; we only need to see your picture and legal name to validate your identity.

  6. Where should my smartphone/tablet (Zoom) video stream be pointed for proctoring?

    At the beginning, point it to your face and show your TAMU ID. Once the exam starts, point it as best you can to show your face, the monitor you're using to take the exam, and as much of your workspace as possible. If the view is not complete, the proctor may have to interrupt you to ask you to change the camera angle temporarily to show your surroundings or a different angle. Click on the thumbnail below to see an example of what you should strive for:

  7. Which time zone are the online exams based on?

    The exams are set for College Station time, i.e. Central Daylight Time (CDT).

  8. I have signed up with Disability Services; do I get my extra time?

    If and only if you have signed up with Disability Services at least a week before the exam, you will receive your extended time on eCampus. This will be set up on a student-by-student basis, as authorized by the Disability Services Center.

  9. My internet connection is a bit unstable where I am; what do I do?

    Try to find a wired ethernet connection if at all possible instead of WiFi. If you lose your internet connection while taking the test, it will freeze the LockDown Browser program. There is no known workaround for this problem. If this happens, you'll need to perform a hard restart your computer by powering off the computer, then powering it back on. Because the LockDown Browser restricts access to your computer, you will have to hold the power button for several seconds to shut it down. See the following Knowledgebase page: LockDown Browser froze during a test and I cannot exit. Again, it is good practice to save – not submit – your work regularly; even if you don't submit in time, all saved work will automatically be submitted for you.

    If your Zoom app disconnects, don't panic; reconnect as soon as you can. Zoom analyzes every user's network bandwidth, enabling us to monitor dropping out and reconnecting, and to ensure no cheating.

  10. I don't have internet at my residence. What do I do?

    If you cannot go somewhere quiet and with privacy that does have internet, one solution would be to use your cell phone as a hotspot.

  11. Is there an ideal location to take the exam? What about my roommate?

    Use a place with good internet connectivity, low noise and good lighting. Ensure that there is no one around you. If you have a roommate who is also taking the same exam, find a different location to take the exam.

  12. I have a University-excused absence for the exam; when is the make-up?

    As noted in the Policies section of the main course webpage, make-up examinations are not offered for the midterm exams. Instead, you will be tested out of the smaller subset of LOs you were tested on in the other exams. E.g. if you miss Exam I where LO 1 was tested 5x, took Exam II where it was tested 3x, and took the comprehensive where it was tested 2x, then instead of needing 6/10 like the rest of the class, you would need 3/5 to achieve LO 1. Similarly for all other tested LOs. Any LOs that only appear on the test you were excused from will not factor into the overall average of LOs passed.

    Due to the trumping factor of the comprehensive (overriding all previous attempts if you get it), we will offer a make-up examination for this test only. Note that you should not strive for this as we will not be able to target the same LOs as the rest of the class and it will likely be less effective at giving you the opportunity to trump previously missed LOs; only use this option if you really need it!

Exam Results

  1. Is there a copy of the exam we took with solutions?

    There is a copy of the exam and an answer key available soon after each exam on the previous exam page of the main webpage: mechanics.physics.tamu.edu/prev_exams.php. We do not provide solutions because we find that is counter-productive to learning from your mistakes; instead we strongly encourage you to try and get the correct answer yourself, and if you cannot to utilize your instructor's office hours to develop your understanding.

  2. Where do I view the current status of my Learning Objectives?

    After the first exam has been analyzed, you may view which LOs you achieved by going to freshman.physics.tamu.edu/p218 and using your NetID credentials to log in.

  3. Why is my score in the eCampus gradebook differ from freshman.physics.tamu.edu/p218?

    The eCampus gradebook tells you how many of the questions were correct on the exam. But your exam grade is based on the number of Learning Objectives achieved, and since each question has a different number of LOs (and some incorrect answers still lead to some correct LOs), the fraction of LOs achieved is not necessary the same as the fraction of questions answered correctly; it may be higher or lower. The fraction of LOs seen at freshman.physics.tamu.edu/p218 at the end of the semester is what your exam grade will be based on.

  4. I did horribly on the first midterm; is it still possible for me to get an A (or B or C or …)

    Since all that matters is the fraction of LOs achieved at the end of the semester, it is certainly possible to still do well in the course. Especially after just the first midterm, many of the LOs tested on that exam will be tested again as the course builds on earlier material. So if you buckle down now and work hard, you can master the material you missed and achieve the LOs you missed before the semester ends. In particular, we do try to target the most-missed LOs in questions on the Comprehensive; we do this to give you a chance to show you've learned it and trump your earlier missed attempts. So it is way too early to give up hope, but you should take a poor Exam I result as a wake-up call to work harder in the course.
    One example of how a student turned things around was in 2019. This student was going into the 3rd midterm with a 10% fraction of achieved LOs. Surprisingly, he/she did not Q-drop, but rather worked very hard. He/she jumped up to 44% after the 3rd midterm and did similarly well on the Comprehensive, ending up with B for his/her final grade! Of course this is not a typical situation, but it goes to show that it is almost never too late to show you've learned the material and end up with a good grade.

Recitations

  1. When do the online recitations start?

    There will be a meeting the 1st week of classes (Jan 19 – 22; your date and time is listed in Howdy) to go over policies and the grading rubric, and to test out Zoom. Starting the week of Jan 25 and every week thereafter, "normal" recitations (in the limit that anything is normal with the coronavirus pandemic…) will begin.

  2. Howdy says my recitation is remote; what is the Zoom meeting ID?

    All Zoom information, including for the recitations, has been summarized on one page: zoom-info-2021A.php. If an entry is blank during the 1st week of classes, it is due to technical and/or scheduling issues; we will work to resolve it ASAP, but rest assured that if there is no Zoom meeting link on the summary page above, then you will not lose recitation points.

  3. I have an issue connecting or need to miss a recitation; do I go to my instructor?

    The recitations are led by your Teaching Assistant (TA); instructors are very hands off, so if you have any issues, first bring it up with your TA. In the unlikely case that your TA is unable to address/resolve it, then your TA should contact the instructor.

Sapling Learning

  1. I ordered the book from the Bookstore, but it hasn't arrived yet. What do I do?

    When signing up, where you would put in the code that comes with the textbook, you have the option to sign up for a 14-day trial period. Use that until your book arrives and you can provide the code which will last the semester.

  2. How do I sign up for Sapling Learning?

    You sign up through eCampus to ensure your Sapling gradebook is properly linked with eCampus. Please follow the steps outlined in this guide: mechanics.physics.tamu.edu/FAQ/docs/instructions-signup4Sapling.pdf.

  3. I'm having technical issues; who do I ask my for help, my instructor?

    Do not ask your instructor; there are too many operating systems and we do not have access to the inner workings of Sapling. For any non-physics related questions/issues, you should contact Macmillan's technical support, which is available for any student 24/7: macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/.

  4. What are "Bridge assignments"? Are they they "homework"?

    Following each pre-lecture video in Sapling are quizzes which test them on the videos you just watched. These are called "Bridge assignments". These are not the weekly homework, which are much more in depth and have separate due dates.

iClickers

  1. Do I get a physical i>Clicker, or the Reef account?

    In general, we have used the physical i>Clicker remotes for in-class polling and participation. However, given the coronavirus pandemic and limited room capacity, we will only be using the iClicker Reef. This allows you to participate even when attending lectures remotely through Zoom. So you do not have to buy a physical i>Clicker; you do need to purchase access to the iClicker Reef and download the appropriate software to your phone/laptop.

  2. How do I get set up with the iClicker Reef system?

    Follow the step-by-step sign-up guide student-instructions-signup4reef.pdf to sign up, purchase and access your class course.

  3. I bought access to Reef without going through Sapling, and now my grades don't sync. What do I do?

    You can add your instructor's course to your existing account. See Step 4 of the sign-up guide. Do not pay again! If this doesn't work and/or you run into issues, Macmillan's Student Support Team can help – contact them via https://macmillan.force.com/iclicker/s/contactsupport.