PHSX 208N Section 1—2014 Spring Syllabus

Instructor Information

Course Information

The Course

You should become familiar with the Moodle site for this class as you will find the laboratory handouts there for each week. You are expected to bring a copy of the handout for each week and your lab notebook with you to each lab meeting. There are additional materials posted there as well.

There are four learning goals for the laboratory course.
  1. You should learn to make careful and correct measurements in the laboratory. This means that you are to measure the indicated quantities with the appropriate instruments—using them well. If you do this you will get very nearly the measurement I did when I used the same equipment to investigate the same questions. I will assess this with one or more questions on lab quizzes asking for your measurement result. You will give your measurement with an associated uncertainty. Your score will reflect how well you used your measurement tools and whether you present your results appropriately.
  2. You should learn to perform appropriate analyses of your data. I will explain how you might do this for each week's laboratory exercise. As examples, you might do a statistical analysis or perhaps a graphical analysis. I will assess this by asking for intermediate or final results on your lab quiz. Your score will reflect how well you did your computations.
  3. You should understand and use simplified error analysis techniques. You should be adept at this from your work in Physics 206. I will ask you for your uncertainties in intermediate or final computations on your lab quizzes. Correct use of our analysis scheme will get you full credit. We will make extensive use of spreadsheets. You need to have a reasonable facility with EXCEL.
  4. You should understand the physical implications of some of the major concepts featured in the laboratory exercises. We will discuss some of these during the introduction to the labs but I will expect you to be able to think and apply your knowledge on the spot. Most weeks there will be a question to assess this on your lab quiz.

Course Grades

There are 11 laboratory experiments; for each there will be a pre-lab quiz and a post-lab quiz. There will be no opportunities for make up labs.

Pre-Lab Quizzes

At 8:00 am on the Thursday prior to your laboratory meeting a Pre-Lab Quiz will become available on our Moodle site. You will have until 11:00pm on Sunday to have completed the Pre-Lab Quiz. There will be 11 such quizzes and your grade will, in part, be based upon your best 9 scores. There will be no late or make-up quizzes. Each Pre-Lab Quiz will require you to do computations similar to the questions asked in the laboratory handout.

Post-Lab Quizzes

At 8:00 am on the Thursday following your laboratory meeting a Post-Lab Quiz will become available on our Moodle site. You will have until 11:00 pm on Sunday to have completed the Post-Lab Quiz. There will be 11 such quizzes and your grade will, in part, be based upon your best 9 scores. There will be no late or make-up quizzes.

The Pre-Lab Quizzes will count for 20% of the semester grade. The Post-Lab Quizzes will constitute the remaining 80%. The distribution of grades across any instructor's sections will, by departmental policy, be about 25% A, 25% B, 25% C, and 25% D & F. All students who complete the first two weeks will be counted in this total and thus some of the D and F grades will be associated with students who have withdrawn from the course.

Academic Honesty

All students must practice academic honesty. Academic misconduct is subject to an academic penalty by the course instructor and/or disciplinary sanction by the University. All students need to be familiar with the Student Conduct Code. The Code is available for review online.
The Student Conduct Code (

Students with Disabilities

University of Montana assures equal access to instruction through collaboration between students with disabilities, instructors, and Disability Services for Students. If you think you may have a disability adversely affecting your academic performance, and you have not already registered with Disability Services, please contact Disability Services in Lommason Center 154 or (406) 243-2243. I will work with you and Disability Services to provide an appropriate modification.
Disability Services for Students (

Complaint Procedure

If anyone is having issues with the way that the course is being taught or the way that material is being presented I hope that you will come to me first to express your concerns. If you feel that you cannot come to me with these issues, you can contact the chair of the department, Dr. Dan Reisenfeld, CHCB 132.