PHYS 211 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description

Introduction to Classical Mechanics

Credit: Credit is not given for both PHYS 211 and PHYS 101.

Prerequisite: Credit or concurrent registration in MATH 231.

Physics 211 is a calculus-based approach to classical mechanics. Classical mechanics is the study of the laws describing forces and motion. These topics are important because they form the foundation upon which most physics and engineering is built.

Course Goals

By the end of this course the student will be able to:

Course Components

All students are required to participate in all course components. Credit is granted in each course component. All course components are subject to the Academic Integrity Policy.


Course participation requires the use of iClicker, an interactive audience response system. Students need to acquire one at the bookstore (new or used), and bring it to every lecture, including the first lecture.

iClicker Registration

Students' iClickers must be registered at the beginning of every semester.

Learning Strategy

To effectively learn new material, students need a wide array of experiences. Our learning philosophy is tailored to help students efficiently process problems in physics by providing the necessary experiences.

In introductory physics, the learning philosophy of the Department of Physics can be summarized as follows:

  1. Think About It! (pre-lectures and checkpoints)
  2. Untangle It! (lectures)
  3. Challenge! (homework)
  4. Apply and Explore It! (labs)
  5. Close the Loop! (discussion)

This course covers a large amount of new material. Each concept builds on previous course concepts. Mastery of previous material is essential. This is the student's responsibility. In order to succeed the student must not fall behind!

Component Description

Think About It: Prelecture and Checkpoints

Due before each lecture, these research-based multimedia presentations and assessments are designed to introduce the key ideas/concepts of the lecture.



Untangle It: Lecture

Participation will occur as follows:

Lectures are formatted into subunits called interACTive learning segments. Each ACT includes conceptual questions and numerical problems which students will answer for participation credit. Students are invited to work in groups, ask questions of and discuss the problem or question with the lecturer during each ACT problem set.

Challenge: Homework

Homework problems are designed to:

Background for the homework is provided by working through the prelectures and checkpoints, and attending the lectures. Students should use this background as a guide to finishing the weekly homework assignments.

To start work on a homework assignment:

The web-based homework covering each week's material is due the following week. Homework is assigned and distributed within the homework system, smartPhysics.

Apply and Explore It: Laboratory

The lab cycle (see course schedule) is designed to provide the opportunity to explore the applications and implications of the concepts developed in lecture. Everyone should come to Lab 0, where they will find out if they are in group A or B for the rest of the semester.

The laboratory portion of this course will consist of four (4) 3-hour laboratories.

  1. A prelab exercise due the morning of each laboratory period.
  2. The laboratory exercise in which students will:
    1. plan and set up simple experiments to investigate topics studied in class
    2. perform measurements of different phenomena studied in lecture
    3. analyze experimental results
    4. make conclusions based on their results and their understanding of the experimental system.
  3. A laboratory write-up which will be completed during the session and turned in at the end of the lab session.

Close the Loop: Discussion

Weekly two (2) hour discussion sections are required. Students select a discussion section during registration. Quizzes will be administered during the discussion section according to the course schedule.

Each discussion session will consist of the following:

Each student is expected to:


Also there will be open office hours every week to give students one-on-one assistance if they need more help. Do not be bashful about taking advantage of these!

Academic Integrity

All activities in this course are subject to the Academic Integrity rules as described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.

Infractions include, but are not limited to:

Violations of any of these rules will be sanctioned and reported to the student's home college.

All aspects of the course are covered by these rules, including:

Research happening in this course

This course is part of a research study to improve teaching in introductory physics courses. As a student in this course, you are enrolled to participate in this research study. Participating means that researchers will use data from your course activities for research. Your participation does not require any special involvement. You do not have to do anything that is not a normal activity or assignment of the course. Any information about you obtained in this research study will be kept as confidential as possible.

For more information about this research and how to opt-out of the research, please read this study information form.