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Questions tagged [concept-motivation]

For questions how to motivate a mathematical concept (i.e., the motivation and examples of definitions, theorems, etc.) or general concepts of mathematics. Please use the tag [tag:student-motivation] for questions about how to motivate students in general.

1
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0answers
62 views

What are mathematical definitions? How are they decided upon? [on hold]

What are mathematical definitions? When(at what stage) and how do mathematicians come up with the basic definitions of the new mathematical concepts they have found? I BELIEVE in math I BELIEVE it's ...
4
votes
1answer
73 views

Making modular arithmetic interesting for school kids

This is a pattern even school kids could discover (when gently pointed to). I never did conciously, and cannot remember to have been pointed to explicitly, neither at school nor later: $$\color{red}{\...
5
votes
3answers
302 views

Justifying the multi-variable chain rule to students

Suppose that $f(x,y,z) = x + 2xy^2 - yz$, and that $\gamma(u,v) = \langle uv, u\sin(v), u\cos(v)\rangle$. Use the chain rule to calculate $\partial(f \circ \gamma)/\partial u$. This is an exercise ...
11
votes
1answer
153 views

Motivation for uniform continuity

What are some problems or theorems that motivate the distinction between continuity and uniform continuity? In particular, I would like: a) A useful, appealing theorem that applies to uniformly ...
6
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4answers
318 views

teach that $\frac10$ not defined properly

there're some students, who belive that $$\frac10 = \infty $$ I need to teach them that this is not true and $\frac10 $ is undefined, mathematically and give a good picture (for there minds) what ...
5
votes
2answers
132 views

Motivation for Fibonacci: Bees

I want to talk about the Fibonacci sequence in my Linear Algebra class. So I tried to look online for examples where the sequence appears naturally. One of the most often mentioned is that of the ...
6
votes
1answer
175 views

Explaining genus to students

I need to do a presentation on my thesis, which is in arithmetic geometry. This presentation is meant for all students of mathematics, but I will assume some knowledge of abstract algebra (i.e. groups,...
9
votes
5answers
303 views

Activities for biology undergraduates taking integral calculus

After searching for applications of calculus for biology students, I've found that many of the results are all either contrived exercises, or are way over the heads of students that are seeing ...
13
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6answers
382 views

Is there a simple real-world problem I can use to motivate a formula for $\displaystyle \sum_{i=1}^n i $?

I would like to know if there is a simple real-world problem which requires knowing a closed form for $\displaystyle \sum_{i=1}^n i$ and/or the sum of the first $n$ even/odd numbers. The only ...
6
votes
2answers
156 views

How to introduce Wilson's Theorem?

What is the most motivating way to introduce Wilson’s Theorem? Why is Wilson’s theorem useful? With Fermat’s little Theorem we can say that working with residue 1 modulo prime p makes life easier ...
11
votes
4answers
568 views

What is most motivating way to introduce Fermat's Little Theorem

What is the best way to introduce Fermat’s Little Theorem (F$l$T) to students? What can I use as an opening paragraph which will motivate and have an impact on why students should learn this theorem ...
12
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5answers
412 views

Moving from discrete probability distributions to continuous ones

I'm teaching an introductory statistics class at a community college, and we've just finished a unit on discrete probability. At the moment, the students' conception of the probability of an event A ...
2
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0answers
77 views

Finding the correct mathmatics based on application as opposed to the other way around?

I just tried to pitch a Math Recommendations site, and it was shot down because it is too broad and that Stack Exchange sites operate on a separation of concerns principle; which makes sense to me but ...
8
votes
8answers
615 views

Is there a toy example of an axiomatically defined system/ structure?

Day 1 in my "Into to Pure Maths" class... I'd like to have a very simple set of axioms defining something, not necessarily a useful thing, but a system that is suitable for making short deductions. ...
24
votes
7answers
3k views

Why do we care about multiple proofs of the same theorem?

I am teaching a math appreciation course to high school students who are approximately 17 years old, in their last year of high school, and who do not believe they will choose a STEM major in ...
5
votes
2answers
694 views

Good way to explain fundamental theorem of arithmetic?

Some students understand how this works, like they know what the theorem means, but, say, imagine some student asks why, not how. Not really proving the theorem, rather why does it exist or why is it ...
16
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5answers
389 views

Against introducing precise definitions first

After introducing eight different ways of viewing the derivative of a function (infinitesimal, symbolic, logical, geometric, rate, approximation, microscopic), Thurston, in his famous essay, ...
10
votes
3answers
253 views

Teaching intuition for the universal property of the product (category theory)

In category theory, there's the idea of the product as an object satisfying a particular universal property. Can you suggest ways to make the concept of the product intuitive? (So far, my attempt ...
10
votes
9answers
3k views

Why do we study ordinary differential equations?

What is a good answer to the question: Why should one study ordinary differential equations? I would give the answer: ODEs are used in many models to determine how the state of this model is changing ...
7
votes
6answers
279 views

Definition of the term, equation

What is the definition of an equation (as a mathematical terminology)? I have been using this term, equation, for a long time. I don't even remember when and where I have learned this term (Possibly, ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

Why should we study continuity?

This question is related to How can I motivate the formal definition of continuity? Imagine a student asks the question why it is worth it to study continuity. What is a good response to this question?...
12
votes
2answers
196 views

Do “overview” sections increase learning outcome?

I write a math textbook for which I want to make an overview chapter for each part of the textbook. In those overview chapters I want to motivate and introduce the new mathematical concepts. I also ...
3
votes
0answers
109 views

Sketching paraboloids on paper

I have to teach sketching paraboloids on paper by looking at it's equation. Last year when I taught this topic no one was interested in learning this particular thing. They felt the topic difficult ...
11
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2answers
214 views

How can one motivate the adjugate matrix?

The adjugate matrix of an $n \times n$ matrix $A$ is defined by $(\mathrm{adj}\ A)_{k\ell} = (-1)^{k+\ell}\,\det M(\ell,k)$, where $M(\ell,k)$ is the minor matrix obtained from $A$ by deleting row $\...
4
votes
2answers
467 views

Why is continuity only defined on its domain?

As mentioned in this question students sometimes struggle with the fact that continuity is only defined at points of the function's domain. For example the function $f:\mathbb R\setminus\{0\} \to \...
3
votes
1answer
398 views

Why is continuity defined as a local property?

The formal definition of continuity is a local property (the definition of continuity at a point is a property of the germ of the function at this point). Why is it a good decision to make the ...
18
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7answers
784 views

How can I motivate the formal definition of continuity?

In order to teach continuity of real valued functions $f:D\to\mathbb R$ one may start with the (in some sense wrong) intuition $f$ is continuous when its graph can be drawn without lifting the pen. ...
5
votes
4answers
503 views

What is the intuition behind the limit superior?

I want to write an article which explains the limit superior. I also want to present the intuition behind this concept. Currently I would describe the limit superior as the "least upper bound of a ...
10
votes
2answers
159 views

Could you suggest books, papers or problems that could be used as good “general” motivating examples of calculus application?

I would like to stress the kind of reference I am looking for: In statistics there are lots of motivating (and sometimes unexpected) examples that are interesting for everyone such as Birthday Problem,...
2
votes
3answers
193 views

Explaining trigonometric equations

I want to know what is the best way to teach simple trigonometric equations, such as $$\sin x=0$$. Should I use the trigonometric circle or the sine graph? Which is better?
24
votes
12answers
6k views

Should I be teaching point-slope formula to high school algebra students?

I'm student teaching this semester, and so far I'm loving it! Our next section in the book teaches point-slope formula, and my cooperating teacher (a 24-year veteran teacher) is convinced that point-...
11
votes
2answers
244 views

How to motivate 'Theory of Computation'?

I am teaching Theory of Computation for the first time soon, and need a short introduction and justification to motivate students who have only Introductory Programming behind them. I am torn between: ...
15
votes
6answers
473 views

How to get students in a under-graduate linear algebra course interested in determinants?

Before teaching the chapter on determinants in a linear-algebra course for beginning undergraduate students (mathematics and computer science, more specifically) I would like to give a small ...
22
votes
6answers
586 views

Too much motivation?

This is something that I felt like was difficult for me in some classes, especially lower division differential equations and linear algebra classes. I know professors want to motivate certain topics ...
10
votes
5answers
208 views

Lesson-planning: Teaching probability concepts via geometry

I am intending to teach a lesson covering some topic related to "Probability via Geometry" and, if possible, I would appreciate references or materials (or good ideas) that can help me. The target ...
9
votes
3answers
190 views

Teaching and motivating the use of Eigenvectors

I would like to know how to better demonstrate Eigenvectors. The texts that I have display the properties and methods to calculate them. There are plenty of great elementary examples to follow through ...
6
votes
1answer
151 views

Resources for Pell's equation

What is the best way to introduce Pell’s equation on a first elementary number theory course? Are there any practical applications of Pell’s equation? What are the really interesting questions about ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

How to explain the topic of Fourier transform interactively?

This is a soft question . In the walk-in for the lectureship, I have decided to give demo lecture on the topic of Fourier transform. The principal of the institution ask me to take lecture ...
6
votes
2answers
197 views

Examples where roots are necessary for the solution

I currently write an article where I want to introduce roots. Thus I need to motivate them. Here I said, they can be used to find solutions of equations like $x^n=a$. Now I want to make some examples, ...
8
votes
2answers
241 views

Is multiplication by zero clear for and understood by K-3 students?

For K-3 students, perhaps it is not acceptable to introduce multiplication by zero as a property or definition. Instead, the child may think about multiplication as, e.g., repeated addition. ...
6
votes
5answers
671 views

Analogies for mathematical induction

What are the most successful analogies that are used to teach the concept of mathematical induction? To clarify, I am not looking for a formal explanation of the principle of mathematical induction, ...
16
votes
8answers
1k views

How to teach Mathematical Induction mathematically?

I am exhausted of teaching Mathematical induction to my little brother. I have given him many examples, Domino effect, aligned shops of hot dogs etc and every time he says that he got it but when I ...
8
votes
3answers
187 views

How important is building up intuition for a theorem before trying to prove it?

For example, consider trying to prove that: If $A$ is a set and $F \subset P(A)$, then the relation $R := \{(a, b) \in A \times A $ such that for every $X \subset A - \{a, b\}$, if $X \cup \{a\} ...
25
votes
5answers
910 views

Wonder as motivation

Like all mathematicians, I have a deep appreciation of the beauty of mathematics. Many theorems I find amazing even after I fully understand their proofs. (Example: Euler's formula, $V-E+F=2-2g$. That ...
11
votes
6answers
830 views

How can I convince students that Fourier series are useful?

Main question: Calculating the coefficients of a Fourier series can be difficult and time-consuming. How might a student be motivated/convinced to go through these (potentially tedious) details? Are ...
11
votes
5answers
352 views

An intuitive derivation of Taylor polynomial coefficients

I'd like to introduce Taylor polynomials by generalizing the linear approximation of a function $f(x)$ to a quadratic approximation. The linear approximation formula $L(x)=f(a)+f'(a)(x-a)$ of $f(x)$ ...
10
votes
3answers
399 views

Good ways of explaining the idea of epsilon-delta limits to bio & chem majors?

I am cross-posting from MSE. The students in my calc classes tend to be primarily bio/chem majors, and not very much math / physics / engineering. I feel like there are pretty good ways to talk ...
5
votes
2answers
346 views

Show me the money

Apologies for the crass title. However, there are incentives for many children in grades (comparable to the U.S.) 3-12 to learn to do arithmetic well. (I recall Number Sense and related contests ...
10
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2answers
251 views

How to differentiate between mathematical skills and understanding of mathematical concepts?

How would my Colleagues here on Math Educators differentiate between mathematical skills and understanding of mathematical concepts? I'm a community college instructor and high school instructor ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

How Can I Motivate Geometric Constructions?

When starting compass and straightedge geometric constructions in my grade 8-9 maths classes, I usually begin by mentioning a little about Euclid and the fact that constructions have been done for ...