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PHYS 114 A: Mechanics

MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm / PAA A118
T 5:00pm - 6:20pm / KNE 120
wahish portrait
Amal al-Wahish

Syllabus Description:

PHYS 114 A Sp 24: Mechanics

Meeting Time

Meeting Day(s) Meeting Time Meeting Location
M W F 12:30 – 1:20 PM PAA A118
T 5:00 – 6:20 PM KNE 120

Final Exam

Thu, Jun 68:30 – 10:20 AM


Topics covered

Phys 114 covers the following topics:

  • scaling
  • one dimensional kinematics
  • vectors and two-dimensional motions
  • forces and Newton's laws of motion
  • circular motion
  • torque
  • rotational dynamics
  • center of gravity
  • static equilibrium
  • elasticity
  • momentum and impulse
  • energy, work, and power



This course has two components: lecture and tutorial.  Each component has several important aspects. You can see all the aspects required in a given week in Modules.

This website describes recommended practices to succeed in this course, and this website contains a list of resources you may find helpful for a variety of issues students may encounter during their time at UW.  We highly recommend the following:

  • Create a weekly schedule to organize when you will work on the various course components.  We have posted a sample weekly schedule here.
  • Working in groups.  We encourage you to work with others on assignments.  You can use Ed discussion to post questions answer other questions, or find people interested in forming a study group.  I will also monitor Ed's discussion tool frequently and will respond if needed.
  • If you have any questions, attend office hours so that they can be addressed.

Contact me if you need help finding the resources you need.

Contact Information

For questions send an email with your course and section (Phys 114 A), your UW net ID (the part before in your email address), and your name as it appears on Canvas to:

  • the instructor, Amal al-Wahish at, for personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, etc...
  • the program coordinator at for administrator questions related to registering, overloading, DRS `etc...

Course Material

The platform for online assignments is MyLab and Mastering through which you also access the e-textbook. You'll find this under the link "Digital Materials" in Canvas.

Learning Catalytics is the name of the software that we'll use for in-class quizzes.

  • You will need to bring a web enabled device to lecture and tutorial to access Learning Catalytics.
  • If you do not own a web enabled device, you can loan for free from the university. See this site for more details. 

The textbook used is College Physics A Strategic Approach, 4th edition, by Knight Jones Field.

  • You can get a hardcopy at the UW bookstore for $28.

Please note that you have been automatically opted in to purchase the eTextbook and MyLab and Mastering.

(Sign in to your Canvas course and follow the instructions in this document on connecting to MyLab and Mastering.

Note that when you enrolled in PHYS 114, 115, or 116, you were automatically placed in the opt-in state to purchase the eTextbook, “MyLab and Mastering,” and “Learning Catalytics”. The fee will be added to your student Tuition and Fees account, and you have to pay before the deadline by clicking on the pay button on the MyUW Accounts page to be taken to your cart at You must enter your name and UWNetID so that the correct student account can be credited. The detailed information, including the payment deadline, is in your welcome letter email from the University Book Store. If you didn’t receive an email or have questions, please contact the University Book Store at In step 2 of the instructions above, you can see how long you have to opt out, but if you opt-out, you will need to purchase “MyLab and Mastering,” and “Learning Catalytics” later at a higher price through Pearson.)

Class components

This class consists of the following components. For more details on each, click the links below.

Lecture overview

We will use a flipped classroom model, which has been shown to improve student learning.

  • Before each scheduled lecture you need to complete the assigned reading (see schedule below).  Note that you should not expect to understand all the reading after reading it once. However, you should at least be familiar with the concepts covered, but not necessarily able to apply them.
  • During the lecture, I will briefly review the reading, but most of the time will be used for you to work on problems individually, and then to discuss them with your peers.  This discussion with peers is one of the most effective ways to learn, so it is important to attend lectures if possible.

I will post lecture slides under the Files.  If you cannot attend a lecture in person due to minor illness etc., you can participate in the in-class quizzes on learning catalytic (at the regular time of the lecture) and then watch recordings on Panopto. The recording will be available under the "Panopto Recordings" menu on the left. Please note, that lectures are not live-streamed. The lecture recording will be also available under the "Panopto Recordings" menu on the left.

Tutorial overview

In the tutorial, you will work with your peers to discuss problems designed to develop a conceptual understanding of physical laws through a research-based scaffolded discovery process.  Initially, you may find the questions challenging and not easy to answer on your own.  Tutorial sections are designed to be a comfortable environment for you to make mistakes.  In the process, you will learn how to reflect on your reasoning and identify where you might make errors.

Tutorials are from 5 PM to 6 PM on Tuesdays (unless they are exam days) in a large lecture hall 120 of KNE. Similarly to lectures, tutorials will be recorded.

Graded components

  • Pre-lecture reading quiz (25% of grade):
    • After completing the reading you need to answer questions on MyLab and Mastering before 11:59 PM on the day before the corresponding lecture.
    • You have up to 5 attempts for each question. For each wrong answer, 10% of the grade is subtracted.  Note that practice problems, adaptive follow-ups, and dynamic study modules available also through Mastering are not graded, but great for your study.
    • Pre-lecture reading quiz scores will be scaled by 1.25 at the end of the quarter (but not allowed to go over 100%).
  • Lecture/Tutorial in-class quizzes (10% of grade):
    • Participating in in-class quizzes on Learning Catalytics requires you to bring a web-enabled device to lecture. If you do not own a web-enabled device, you can loan for free from the university. See this site for more details. Please contact me if you have a problem accessing a web-enabled device.
    • Some questions may be graded purely on participation, but most are graded 80% for participation and 20% for the correct answer. At the end of the quarter, the total in-class quiz score is scaled by 1.25 but truncated at 100%.
    • If you miss a lecture due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact me, and your in-class quizzes can be excused. 
  • Tutorial pretest (5% of grade):
    • These are designed to get you thinking about your ideas on topics covered in this course.  They are graded based on a thoughtful attempt, not on correctness.
    • These become available Friday at 3:30 PM and are due on Monday at 11:59 PM.
    • Once you start a pretest, you will have 30 minutes to complete it without the ability to pause.
    • Your lowest tutorial pretest score will be automatically dropped.
    • If you miss more than one tutorial pretest due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact me, and your tutorial pretest score can be excused. 
  • Exams (60 % of grade): 

Important note:

Each exam includes questions based on the lectures and tutorials, so missing a lecture or tutorial section can have an impact on your exam performance.  If you miss a lecture or tutorial, make sure to work through the missed material to minimize the impact on your course grade.

The exam procedure is described here.

The following dates are preliminary and may change.

    • Midterm exam 1 on April 23rd from 5:00 to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall
    • Midterm exam 2 on May 14th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall
    • The final exam is on Thursday, Jun 06 th from 8:30 Am to 10:20 AM in PAA  

Note that there are no make-up exams.  So, students with outside professional, service, or career commitments (i.e. military service, ROTC, professional conference presentation, NCAA sports, etc.) conflicting with the exam dates must contact me early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures.  Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.

Each exam is out of 100 points, and has three components:

    • 80 points on lecture material
    • 20 points on tutorial material

Exams will count for 60% of your grade.  Your overall exam score will be based on the best of the following two methods:

    • Method 1: 60% of your average exam score for the two midterms and the final.
      • ex: If you earned a 75% on midterm 1, an 80% on midterm 2, and an 82% on the final, you would receive: (75 + 80 + 82)/3 = 79% as your "exam score". When calculating your grade, your exam would contribute 0.79*60% = 47.4%
    • Method 2: 20% from your best midterm score and 40% from your final exam score
      • ex: In the same scenario, your exams would contribute to your final grade as: 0.8*20% (from midterm 2) + 0.82*40% (from the final) = 48.8%
      • In this example, Method 2 gives a higher final contribution and is what we would use to calculate this person's grade.

We try to design the exams such that a student who understands some of the material very well but needs some improvement in the remaining material should get a score of around 65%.  If the class average on a given exam is less than 65%, then all the scores for that exam will be adjusted upward so that the average is 65%. Scores will not be adjusted downward even if the class average is higher than 65%.

If a student is found responsible for misconduct during an exam, a score of zero will be given for that exam for this student.  If the misconduct occurs during a midterm, only Method 1 is used to calculate the final grade, and Method 2 is not used.



  • Your final weighted percentage is converted to a grade point using the following thresholds. 
    grade point final course score   grade point final course score   grade point final course score   grade point final course score
    4.0 93 3.0 78 2.0 63 1.0 48
    3.9 91.5 2.9 76.5 1.9 61.5 0.9 46.3
    3.8 90 2.8 75 1.8 60 0.8 44.6
    3.7 88.5 2.7 73.5 1.7 58.5 0.7 42.9
    3.6 87 2.6 72 1.6 57    
    3.5 85.5 2.5 70.5 1.5 55.5    
    3.4 84 2.4 69 1.4 54    
    3.3 82.5 2.3 67.5 1.3 52.5    
    3.2 81 2.2 66 1.2 51    
    3.1 79.5 2.1 64.5 1.1 49.5    

Reading schedule

Reading Schedule

Research Study Information

This course is part of a research project examining student reasoning ability and attitudes about physics to improve physics teaching.  By enrolling in this course, you are automatically included in the study. Early in the quarter, students will have an opportunity to learn about the study and to remove themselves from the study if they wish. Your instructor will not know whether or not you participate. Please click on this link to review the details of the study, contact a member of the research team, or remove yourself from the study.

Access and accommodation

Your experience in this class is important to us, so if you have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, and physical), please contact DRS to arrange accommodations.

Safe campus

We are committed to ensuring a safe environment on campus.  We encourage you to check out the resources available here.

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

Academic integrity and student conduct

The University takes academic integrity and student conduct very seriously.  Behaving with integrity and respect is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community.  Acts of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to, cheating by working with others or sharing answers on exams.

Please note that taking photos or recording instructors, other students, and course materials without permission is strictly forbidden.  Streaming or posting inappropriate materials on any course platform is also not allowed. 

All the course materials including exam and quiz questions, lecture notes, and lecture videos are intellectual properties of the instructor and the University of Washington. Distributing them in any form without permission is forbidden.  

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals.  Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution.  More information can be found online at

If you’re uncertain about if something is academic or behavioral misconduct, ask us.  we are willing to discuss any questions you might have.

Catalog Description: 
Principles of mechanics using algebra-based modeling with an emphasis on applications in life sciences. Maximum 5 credits allowed for any combination of PHYS 114, PHYS 117, PHYS 121, and PHYS 141. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
February 22, 2024 - 3:29am