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I have received request from a student, who is not in math major, asking me for advice on

  1. How to keep motivated when studying math (calculus, linear algebra, etc.)
  2. What does one need to do beyond doing homework in order to get an A?

(I understand this is a subjective matter. And I do have my own opinions. But I want to ask this question, not in order to get a correct answer, but to solicit some ideas different from my own.)

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    $\begingroup$ Which kind of math? A "cookbook" course where they have to learn how to use something in math? Or a course in which they are expected to learn why things work the way they do? $\endgroup$ Apr 7, 2022 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Is the student only interested in improving their grade, or would they actually like to understand the mathematics? $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2022 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianBorchers I think this students both want to learn some math and also get a good grade. $\endgroup$
    – user11702
    Apr 8, 2022 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ In some cases, depending on the course design, those two goals can be in conflict. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2022 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ An overlapping question (It asks how to be "perfect" at calculus): matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/5586 $\endgroup$
    – Jasper
    Apr 18, 2022 at 7:17

1 Answer 1

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  1. Turn the homework into a bit of a game. (Each night, see how long it takes you and how many problems you get right.) But to a certain sense, this needs to become like sports training or dieting...when you embrace the grind, when you do the grind, you come to enjoy or at least tolerate it. But you can't flip a switch and love it at the beginning. Have to work through the hard part at the beginning. But if you stick with it, the motivation will become less of an issue.

a. Do all the homework diligently, not just the teacher assigned problems, but all the drill problems for each section of the book.

b. Preread the chapters, working each example as you go. Then do all the drill problems. The lecture, just becomes a pleasant review, or a chance to ask for nuances.

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    $\begingroup$ I had a colleague who had a student complain that some other students were gaining an unfair advantage by completing problems which were not assigned in the homework. Can you imagine, doing more problems than were assigned! And not even for points? Who are these people! $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2022 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ James S. Cook: I find it interesting that such students would consider this as gaining an unfair advantage, but wouldn't blink an eye if someone told them that their favorite professional basketball player, while in high school, gained an unfair advantage by sometimes practicing basketball outside of their high school's Nov.-March weekday (only, and also excluding game days) practices from 3:30 to 5:30 PM. (and maybe sometimes even, one shudders to think, took more free throw practice shots than the coach assigned). $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2022 at 17:06

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