College Physics Plus MasteringPhysics with eText -- Access Card Package

Eugenia Etkina / Michael Gentile / Alan Van Heuvelen  
Total pages
August 2013
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College Physics is the first text to use an investigative learning approach to teach introductory physics. This approach encourages students to take an active role in learning physics, to practice scientific skills such as observing, analyzing, and testing, and to build scientific habits of mind. The authors believe students learn physics best by doing physics.


An active learning approach encourages students to construct an understanding of physics concepts and laws in the same ways that physicists acquire knowledge. Students learn physics by doing physics.

  • Observational Experiment Tables and Testing Experiment Tables direct students to explore science through active discovery. Students make observations, analyze data, identify patterns, test hypotheses, and predict outcomes.
  • Videos, accessed by QR codes in the text or through MasteringPhysics®, accompany nearly every Observational Experiment Table and Testing Experiment Table. Students can observe the exact experiment described in the tables.
  • Worked Examples, Conceptual Exercises, Quantitative Exercises, and Problem-Solving Strategies build higher-level scientific skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and experimental design.
  • The Active Learning Guide, which is organized in parallel with the textbook’s chapters, supplements the knowledge-building approach of the textbook with activities that provide opportunities for further observation, testing, sketching, and analysis. The Active Learning Guide can be used in class for individual or group work or assigned as homework.

Students learn to represent physical phenomena in multiple ways using words, figures, and equations, including qualitative diagrams and innovative bar charts that create a foundation for quantitative reasoning and problem solving.

  • Qualitative-first system develops conceptual understanding.
  • Worked examples use the multiple representations approach to teach students how to solve complex physics problems. Students translate a problem statement into the language of physics, sketch and diagram the problem, represent it mathematically, solve the problem, and evaluate the result.
  • Reasoning skills boxes focus on a particular skill, such as drawing a motion diagram, force diagram, or work-energy bar chart. 

Students discover the real-world application of physics by relating physics concepts and laws to everyday experiences and applying them to problems in diverse fields such as biology, medicine, and astronomy.

  • Putting It All Together sections help students synthesize chapter content within real-world applications such as avoiding “the bends” in scuba diving (Chapter 10), making automobiles more efficient (Chapter 13), and building liquid crystal displays (Chapter 24).
  • Biological and medical examples throughout the text provide relevance for life science majors and include topics such as understanding the effect of radon on the lungs (Chapter 5), controlling body temperature (Chapter 12), and measuring the speed of blood flow (Chapter 20).

Innovative, widely praised assessment tools employ an active learning approach through examples, exercises, and problems that promote higher-level reasoning.

  •  Unique, Jeopardy-style end-of-chapter problems ask students to work backwards from an equation to craft a problem statement. Chapters also include “what if” problems, estimating problems, and qualitative/quantitative multi-part problems.
  • MCAT-style Reading Passages help students prepare for the MCAT exam. Because so many students who take this course are planning to study medicine, each chapter includes MCAT-style reading passages and related multiple-choice questions to help prepare students for this important test.
  • Review questions at the end of each section of the chapter encourage critical thinking and synthesis rather than recall.

Table of Contents

I. Introducing Physics

1. Kinematics: Motion in One Dimension

2. Newtonian Mechanics

3. Applying Newton’s Laws

4. Circular Motion

5. Impulse and Linear Momentum

6. Work and Energy

7. Extended Bodies at Rest

8. Rotational Motion

9. Gases

10. Static Fluids

11. Fluids in Motion

12. First Law of Thermodynamics

13. Second Law of Thermodynamics

14. Electric Charge, Force, and Energy

15. The Electric Field

16. DC Circuits

17. Magnetism

18. Electromagnetic Induction

19. Vibrational Motion

20. Mechanical Waves

21. Reflection and Refraction

22. Mirrors and Lenses

23. Wave Optics

24. Electromagnetic Waves

25. Special Relativity

26. Quantum Optics

27. Atomic Physics

28. Nuclear Physics

29. Particle Physics


Eugenia Etkina has a PhD in Physics Education from Moscow State Pedagogical University and has more than 30 years experience teaching physics. She currently teaches at Rutgers University, where she received the highest teaching award in 2010 and the New Jersey Distinguished Faculty award in 2012. Professor Etkina designed and now coordinates one of the largest programs in physics teacher preparation in the United States, conducts professional development for high school and university physics instructors, and participates in reforms to the undergraduate physics courses. In 1993 she developed a system in which students learn physics using processes that mirror scientific practice. That system serves as the basis for this textbook. Since 2000, Professors Etkina and Van Heuvelen have conducted over 60 workshops for physics instructors and co-authored The Physics Active Learning Guide (a companion edition to College Physics will be available from Pearson in January, 2013). Professor Etkina is a dedicated teacher and an active researcher who has published over 40 peer-refereed articles.


Michael Gentile is an Instructor of Physics at Rutgers University. He has a masters degree in physics from Rutgers University, where he studied under Eugenia Etkina and Alan Van Heuvelen, and has also completed postgraduate work in education, high energy physics, and cosmology. He has been inspiring undergraduates to learn and enjoy physics for more than 15 years. Since 2006 Professor Gentile has taught and coordinated a large-enrollment introductory physics course at Rutgers where the approach used in this book is fully implemented. He also assists in the mentoring of future physics teachers by using his course as a nurturing environment for their first teaching experiences. Since 2007 his physics course for the New Jersey Governor's School of Engineering and Technology has been highly popular and has brought the wonders of modern physics to more than 100 gifted high school students each summer.


Alan Van Heuvelen holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Colorado. He has been a pioneer in Physics Education Research for several decades. He taught physics for 28 years at New Mexico State University where he developed active learning materials including the Active Learning Problem Sheets (the ALPS Kits) and the ActivPhysics multimedia product. Materials such as these have improved student achievement on standardized qualitative and problem-solving tests. In 1993 he joined Ohio State University to help develop a PER group. He moved to Rutgers University in 2000 and retired in 2008. For his contributions to national physics education reform, he won the 1999 AAPT Millikan Medal and was selected a fellow of the American Physical Society. Over the span of his career he has led over 100 workshops on physics education reform. In the last ten years, he has worked with Professor Etkina in the development of the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE), which integrates the results of physics education research into a learning system that places considerable emphasis in helping students develop science process abilities while learning physics.