What and how much scaffolding is necessary for a motivated undergraduate student who doesn't have the ideal prerequesites for work? This could be for a number of reasons:

  • He didn't realize the purpose of certain classes until later.
  • He had troubles grasping concepts on his own and didn't have as much help as he should.
  • Really bad classes.

Whatever they are, he's willing to catch up. How to deal with this situation?


closed as too broad by Benjamin Dickman, Wrzlprmft, András Bátkai, Chris Cunningham, Brian Rushton Apr 3 '14 at 16:59

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    $\begingroup$ I would spend some time identifying the gaps this student has in their knowledge and then maybe devise a plan on how to catch up with this knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Vlasev Apr 1 '14 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ A related question some of the answers might be relevant (though I did not find a real answer to your question): matheducators.stackexchange.com/q/1137/61 $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Apr 1 '14 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ The related question seems to be treating with overly basic matters. As an example for my question, consider a student who knows linear algebra but not dual spaces and linear functionals very well. $\endgroup$ – Mark Fantini Apr 1 '14 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think you could phrase your question so that it is not so broad? Right now it says: For some reason, a motivated undergraduate is behind where he should be in his work. How should an instructor [even this is implicit...] respond? $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Apr 2 '14 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ I also think this is far too broad. It should at least be asked from the point of view of his instructor in a current class, and perhaps even from the point of view of his instructor in a specific type of class. For example "When a calculus student knows no trigonometry, how best can I help him catch up?" probably even has different answers than "When an abstract algebra student knows nothing about matrices, how best can I help him catch up?" And "My research student doesn't seem to know how proofs work" would be even more different. $\endgroup$ – Chris Cunningham Apr 3 '14 at 15:24