Questions tagged [mathematical-pedagogy]

for questions on general considerations and problems of teaching mathematics, i.e., issues specific to teaching mathematics yet relevant to various contexts and courses.

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2 votes
1 answer
182 views

Recreational mathematics to create sense of mathematics

Recreational mathematics serves as a valuable educational tool by enhancing interest, fostering engagement, and refining mathematical thinking. While it often falls outside traditional curricula, ...
4 votes
4 answers
403 views

Why use the vague notion of "vector" when you have $\mathbb R^2,\mathbb R^3,\mathbb R^4,\ldots$?

I'm reading an introductory course on groups. In this course, the author illustrates concepts using the vectors of the plane. For example, "the set of vectors in the plane(or in space) is a group ...
2 votes
1 answer
115 views

Comparison of two ways to introduce translation to 12-14 year olds

I consider pupils 12-14 years old, who are new to translation. On the other hand, they have been accustomed to placing points in a coordinate system, especially when studying relative numbers. In ...
2 votes
0 answers
135 views

When Interpreting "If A, then B" as "A coupled with B" is rational?

It is known that the meaning of a conditional statement in fuzzy logic can vary depending on the interpretation and context. As we know, some ones interpret "if A, then B" as "A coupled ...
2 votes
1 answer
207 views

About a difficult exercise for 12 years pupils

You have to go from a point $A$ (start) to a point $B$ (arrival) by crossing a river $(d)$ and traveling as little distance as possible. Pupils first do a search by trying several paths $1,2,3,4$ and ...
14 votes
6 answers
2k views

A good book about mathematical thinking

I am a qualified mathematics teacher but I have left teaching because I could not tolerate the behaviour of students. Now I am a mathematics tutor and I love that I get to teach students who are eager ...
100 votes
20 answers
19k views

Unique candidate that fails

In the comments to David Speyer's answer here, he points out that "the distinction between 'if there is a formula, it is this one' and 'this formula works' is subtle." Does anyone have any simple, ...
12 votes
4 answers
917 views

How to teach a student algebra who misses too much previous knowledge?

I am now tutoring a student in Grade 9, who falls behind in math study. He lacks the basic understanding of operations and inverse operations, and have trouble dealing with negative numbers and ...
9 votes
7 answers
2k views

Is there a resource for learning to read mathematical notation/equations/formulae?

Ideally, I am looking for an online resource. But a book or any other would help already. Background: I am a senior teaching assistant in the field of business and statistics. Most of my students have ...
5 votes
7 answers
2k views

Alternative approaches in basic mathematical operations

Sometimes awareness of alternative approaches of different origins may be helpful for students to improve their creative skills in mathematics. What would you suggest as alternative methods in basic ...
23 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is there a good way to explain determinants in an elementary linear algebra class?

Many colleges offer an an elementary linear algebra class for sophomore math, science, and economics majors. Such a class typically covers a chapter on determinants, including the following aspects: ...
19 votes
4 answers
3k views

Whether to tell students how difficult (you think) a problem is

Background: Most textbooks end a section with a set of questions ranked either by topic or by difficulty. A distinction is often made between "exercises", which are for directly practicing a ...
9 votes
3 answers
564 views

Best practices for Proof Revision/ Proof Portfolio?

I'm teaching a class small enough that I'm considering encouraging proof revisions (i.e. students taking a second try on proof based homework problems after getting feedback) for the first time. I'd ...
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Test Correction Analysis

In hopes of helping my students practice and deepen their understanding of math knowledge, I wanted to bring up the topic of a test correction analysis - I didn't find much on this topic when I ...
2 votes
0 answers
124 views

"Tools" (literarily) for solving linear or quadratic equations

Since a few weeks, I teach as a tutor (not from that school) a support course in a German 9/10 class. I quickly noticed a horrible lack of basics. (Partly based on just different names - I had to ...
7 votes
1 answer
672 views

Bridging the gap between students' intuitive problem-solving abilities and expressing ideas through formal writing

Seeking guidance on how to assist students who possess a solid grasp of problem-solving concepts, allowing them to intuitively arrive at solutions, yet encounter difficulties when it comes to ...
3 votes
11 answers
3k views

Importance of complex numbers knowledge in real roots

Many students question the importance of complex numbers in real life. We can find many important applications of imaginary numbers in Engineering field and physics. This question is not related to ...
5 votes
4 answers
347 views

Educational resources commonly address slant asymptotes. Why not general polynomial asymptotes?

Back in 2018, I wrote a post about asymptotes of rational functions in which I addressed not only horizontal and slant/oblique asymptotes, but also the general case of "polynomial asymptotes.&...
24 votes
14 answers
16k views

What can I do when advanced undergraduate and/or early graduate STEM students cannot perform correct math manipulations?

I have helped to TA and taught several courses with mixtures of advanced undergraduate and early graduate students in engineering/STEM. These courses are the classics: signal processing, control, ...
1 vote
1 answer
205 views

Identifying Trigonometrical proofs

How can we identify trigonometrical proofs from geometrical proofs, do we have purely trigonometrical proof of Pythagoras theorem as claimed by two high school students ? https://www....
5 votes
4 answers
249 views

Role of history of mathematics in contextual teaching and learning

To get a deeper understanding of mathematics conceptual teaching and learning is supposed to be a much better approach than factual teaching and learning processes. Since the conceptual approach is ...
2 votes
3 answers
269 views

Is this a viable Calculus 1 question?

A person is standing next to a hot air balloon. At the same time, the person starts moving away from the balloon at 5 ft/sec and the balloon rises straight into the air at a rate of 12 ft/sec. Is the ...
15 votes
15 answers
7k views

Students can't seem to grasp the intent of tangent lines and getting general trends of derivatives from graphs

Background I'm informally helping a few students with college Calc 1. This isn't the first time I've aided people with calculus, and so they've sought me for help, though I don't consider myself to ...
2 votes
3 answers
951 views

Better proof for a proposition when a proof is already available [closed]

What is a much better proof in mathematics, is it need to be a much more advanced one compared with the proof already available or a much simpler one? I think you can challenge a proof in two ...
26 votes
14 answers
9k views

How to teach pure mathematics to a well-educated adult who did badly in maths at school

My partner is a PhD student in philosophy and has recently developed a keen interest in learning pure mathematics. I am doing my best to teach her (I'm a pure maths PhD student myself) and it is ...
23 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can we avoid confusion over using "let" as a quantifier?

I've encountered the following misunderstanding. I pose a question (to undergraduates in the U.S.), for example: Let $P$ be a polygon of $n$ vertices. Is it true that every triangulation of $P$ has ...
20 votes
11 answers
3k views

Books that every aspirant mathematician should read

I am a student and I would love to become a research mathematician one day. So I would like to ask you---experts in mathematics but also in education---what are some influential ($\star$) books that ...
13 votes
7 answers
1k views

What are some good books on mathematical pedagogy?

I suspect that; just as one must "do" mathematics to learn mathematics, one must have practice teaching mathematics to become a great mathematics instructor. Still, a good book on ...
12 votes
3 answers
706 views

Fighting math phobia with history

After years of experience in some area of expertise, you can easily forget how difficult it can be for the uninitiated to grasp some fundamental concepts, and, indeed, people often edit out of their ...
13 votes
0 answers
506 views

Was math education following a western trend?

After some research on the recent history of math education in the U.S., from the new math movement to the beginning of the 21st century, I understood that the historic flow of the math education ...
4 votes
0 answers
118 views

Activities that encourage students to create or evaluate mathematical notations

I'm looking for references about activities that encourage elementary school students to create or evaluate mathematical notations. do you know any?
3 votes
5 answers
383 views

Average Rate of Change isn't/is Statistics

I have the common misconception in my business calculus classes that the Average Rate of Change, say from $x=1$ to $x=5$, is the statistical average of the rates on the four unit intervals $1$ to $2$, ...
10 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is the pedagogical justification and history for using mnemonics to teach order of operations?

There was previously a question/rant here on MESE about why so many are still using the PEMDAS/BODMAS/BIDMAS/BEDMAS mnemonics to teach order of operations. The question was deleted (still viewable by ...
2 votes
4 answers
534 views

A better example of a logical implication

(Updated) An example of a logical (material) implication that is commonly used is: "If it is raining outside, then the ground is wet." The problem with this example is that it could be ...
4 votes
0 answers
167 views

Studies on the change in effectiveness of pedagogical practices over time

Are there any studies that have investigated this question? Why certain pedagogical practices that used to be effective up to a few years ago, may suddenly become less or even no longer effective? I ...
9 votes
2 answers
505 views

Native language, writing, and mathematical problem solving

This question is meant to explore the intuition that mathematical thought does not most naturally proceed from writing in one's native language. The hackneyed and not entirely satisfying slogan that ...
8 votes
5 answers
882 views

What should I call the "important" values of x?

When analyzing the functions $f(x) = \sqrt{x-5}$ $g(x) = \frac{1}{x-5}$ $h(x) = 2^{x-5}$ we know that it is useful to think about what happens at $x = 5$. For the function $f$, this logic will ...
36 votes
6 answers
9k views

How can teachers warn students about common mistakes without causing the student to make the mistake?

For example, if you're teaching integration of $\int \frac{dx}{1+x^2}$, would you mention the common wrong answer of $\ln\left(1+x^2\right)+C$? -- For myself, I very rarely mention common mistakes ...
44 votes
28 answers
12k views

Good, simple examples of induction?

Many examples of induction are silly, in that there are more natural methods available. Could you please post examples of induction, where it is required, and which are simple enough as examples in a ...
1 vote
0 answers
174 views

What to cover on a first ordinary differential equations module?

I will have to teach a first course in differential equations. What should I cover in this module? For example, in most books, have Laplace Transforms which is fine but I would not use LT to solve ...
5 votes
0 answers
128 views

Is it possible to learn some basic mathematics using an app?

I am interested in developing an app for students that are starting a grade career involving mathematics. It is a real problem that they start with almost no knowgladge of basic mathematics and there ...
27 votes
8 answers
6k views

When should we first teach variables in school math? And how?

From a pedagogical point of view, when is the "right" moment to introduce letters and variables to school children? Let's say we taught arithmetic, the four operations, did computation exercises, or ...
14 votes
3 answers
807 views

The "rearranging" approach to teaching logarithms

Consider the following way to teach division: Division works this way: any product equation $xy = z$ can be rewritten as a quotient equation $x = \frac{z}{y}$. Just move the numbers in that way. ...
36 votes
24 answers
6k views

Imbuing a six year old with a sense of mathematical wonder

My six year old started school a few months back and he's loving it. This first year is more about social skills than anything academic and I like that approach. But we're spending some time at home ...
4 votes
1 answer
223 views

Elementary examples for non-reversible logical steps

While listening to recordings of Calculus $I$ lectures, I noticed that some students get confused between showing that "some object $x$ is a solution", and showing that "every (...
14 votes
8 answers
1k views

Teaching advanced math using books with cartoons

Could an effective and 'comprehensive' course on advanced math be taught through a series of fun comic books, say a fun and adventurous series of stories each exploring advanced math principles ...
8 votes
3 answers
630 views

Is there a numerical base that is in any way “better” for simple mathematical calculations than others?

I want to know if there are any numerical bases that are notably well-suited for humans to learn and use at an elementary or grade-school level. I know that different numerical bases (i.e. decimal/...
20 votes
6 answers
12k views

Good examples of proof by contradiction?

In later courses on automata theory, many students just seem incapable of getting a proof that a language isn't regular right, be it using the pumping lemma (see also the many questions on the matter ...
4 votes
0 answers
207 views

When dealing with sequences, should we teach students to start at 0 or 1?

The reason I prefer starting at 0 is due to a computer science background and also, I think it helps to start at 0 because there are certain reasons that demand it (in particular, combinatorics) and I ...
3 votes
6 answers
1k views

Is this motivation for the concept of a limit a good one?

tldr: There is a simple intuitive definition of a limit for monotone sequences, and I suggest that it can be used to motivate the (more complicated) standard definition. I am asking for feedback on my ...

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