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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:

Physics 121 and 122: Tutorials in Introductory Physics (Course Pack) available at UW Bookstore.

Physics 123: 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.

Enrolled students are expected to attend only their registered tutorial section. If you need to attend another tutorial to make up one you missed, you may attend any available section during the same week. However, you need to have permission of the TA in charge of the section to be allowed to participate. Email the TA of the section you wish to attend to obtain permission before you arrive. The TA has the right to deny entry into their section to anyone who is not registered in the section.

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. Each homework assignment is graded out of 10 possible points. For each pretest you complete, you receive 1 point.

In-class participation credit will only be awarded if you participate in group discussions. Tutorials are designed around discussing your ideas with your group, so your participation is critical.


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.

When TAs grade your homework, they are expected to write comments any time points are deducted. The comments your TA writes are intended to help you understand why your explanation was not complete, or what you might consider to improve your response. Use these comments to help you study for course exams, which are graded in a similar fashion to the homework.

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.