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Tutorials in Introductory Physics

General Information on Tutorials

The Physics 121, 122, and 123 courses consist of three main components: Lecture, Laboratory, and Tutorial. See the 1XX course homepage for information on the lab and lecture components of the course.

The emphasis in the tutorials is not on solving the standard quantitative problems, but on the development of important physical concepts and scientific reasoning skills. The tutorials comprise an integrated system of pretests, worksheets, homework assignments, and exam problems.

Required Tutorial Workbook: Tutorials in Introductory Physics, Lillian C. McDermott, Peter S. Shaffer, and the Physics Education Group, Updated Preliminary Second Edition. This edition is available only at the UW bookstore.

Locations and times of individual sections are listed in the Time Schedule. If you are not yet enrolled, go to any tutorial section that is associated with your class.

Tutorial TAs

You can find the name of your Tutorial TAs in the 121 tutorial schedule, the 122 tutorial schedule, or the 123 tutorial schedule. The grader is listed first.

Most TAs are listed in the Quarterly TA Assignments. Click on the name of the TA of interest to send him/her an email.

Tutorial Faculty

  • Prof. L.C. McDermott
  • Prof. P.S. Shaffer

Faculty offices are located in C208 Physics Astronomy Building.
Telephone: (206) 685-2046

Tutorial Scores

Tutorial participation, tutorial homework, and tutorial pretest participation all contribute to your final tutorial score. For each tutorial in which you participate, you receive 2 points (though WebAssign records tutorial participation as 1, and non-participation as 0). Each homework assignment is graded out of 10 possible points. For each pretest you complete, you receive 1 point.


There will be short weekly pretests that will be administered on the web. Pretests will not be graded; however, completion of these pretests will be a factor in determining your final grade. Pretests usually cover material that has been presented in lecture, but are intended to start you thinking about the concepts that will be addressed in tutorial later in the week. Pretests also inform the instructors and TAs about the difficulties that many students may be having with the course material. A poster of the pretest will be posted in tutorial room so that students can discuss the questions after they finish the tutorial. The current online pretest can be accessed by following the appropriate link above.

Tutorial Sessions

During a tutorial students work in small groups on worksheets that emphasize the main concepts in the course. Tutorial instructors do not lecture but ask questions designed to help you find your own answers. Students are expected to construct answers for themselves through discussions with classmates and the tutorial instructors. Since discussions require active participation, a small portion of the final grade for the course is based on students' participation in the tutorial sessions.

Tutorial Homework

Tutorial homework will be assigned each week and collected before the next tutorial session. The homework associated with the tutorial reinforces and extends the material covered in the worksheets. Not all homework in the tutorial homework book may be assigned each week. Follow the appropriate link on this page for a list of the assigned problems. One problem from each assignment will be graded in detail.

Tutorial Exam Problems

Each midterm exam will contain one page of tutorial questions. The topics that may be covered include the three most recent tutorials for which you've turned in homework.

The final exam will contain at least one page of tutorial questions. Any topic from the quarter may be covered, but tutorials that have not yet been tested are typically emphasized.