Comprehensiveness rating: 1 read less
Calculus-Based Physics I by Jeffery W. Schnick briefly covers each topic students would cover in a first-term calculus-based physics course. The chapters are short and offer few example problems for the students to work through and no homework problems/exercises. Adding additional example problems may help in students’ overall understanding of the material. The lack of exercises in the book may cause issues with students who wish to work through additional problems or with instructors who wish to assign problems for homework.
Accuracy rating: 2
I noticed no errors in the presented physics or calculations. One problem with the Free Body Diagrams (FBDs) is that some do not have proper scaling on the force vector arrows (e.g. the force vector arrows on page 84 have different magnitudes, but the arrow lengths are the same). Also, instead of having the FBDs indicate the net force on the object, the direction of the acceleration is shown.
The notation used to define Newton’s Second Law is also problematic (chapter 12). The sum of the forces is written without indices to indicate the summation is over distinct forces on an object. Although this is stated in text, the notation is incorrect. This problem is also present in defining Newton’s Second Law for rotational motion (chapter 23).
Relevance/Longevity rating: 3
The content in this textbook would not become irrelevant to introductory physics courses. All example problems are written in terms of the motion, energy, pressure, etc. of everyday objects (rocks, fishing lines, etc.) that students would be able to grasp.
Clarity rating: 2
The book reads easily, but contains few diagrams and pictures, which may leave students confused. The book as a whole reads like an upper division textbook and maybe be difficult for introductory students to follow. The brevity of the chapters may also lead to confusion, as students would only see several pages of explanation along with one to two example problems before moving on to the next topic.
Consistency rating: 2
The book is consistent with itself, though terminology occasionally differs from common introductory physics textbooks such as Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Randall D. Knight. Most notably the book introduces ‘g’ as the magnitude of earth’s gravitational field, instead of the free-fall acceleration on earth.
Modularity rating: 2
The short chapters would make assigning reading for the students easy. The order of the book is such that most physics instructors would need to jump around to different chapters, as opposed to following the chapters in a consecutive order.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 1
The book begins with a good overview of mathematics needed for the course, but then jumps into several chapters dealing with conservation of energy and momentum (chapters 2-5). Concepts such as mass, speed, velocity, position, units, moment of inertia, and spring constant are only given brief definitions. These chapters may cause confusion among students, because they have not yet developed their own understanding of these concepts before applying them to conservation of energy/momentum problems. The mentioned concepts are covered in more depth, however, starting in chapter 6.
Interface rating: 3
The book’s interface is easy to follow and all chapters, diagrams, and example problems are clearly labeled. Diagrams are simple, but are able to convey the situations and problems effectively.
Grammatical Errors rating: 3
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
Cultural Relevance rating: 3
There is no offensive or culturally insensitive content present.
I would recommend this textbook to be used only as a reference or supplemental textbook. The book does not offer enough content for the students to develop an in-depth understanding of the topics covered in an introductory calculus-based physics course.
The book would also be useful for undergraduate physics majors studying for the Physics GRE, as it gives a brief overview of important topics.