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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23
votes
5answers
1k views

Inability to work with an arbitrary mathematical object

This question is motivated by student responses to homework and quiz problems I have recently posed in an undergraduate real analysis course. I will share some examples and observations first, to ...
12
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1answer
269 views

How to write proofs on the board in the classroom

I'm teaching an introductory analysis course, and I am seeking some feedback on how proofs should be written on the board in class in order to maximize learning. I realize that there is an opinion-...
28
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10answers
8k views

How should a student's inefficient calculation be pointed out?

One time I watched a student solve the equation $0 = (x-2)^2-9$ for $x$ like this. $$\begin{align*} 0 &= (x-2)^2-9 \\0 &= (x^2-4x+4)-9 \\0 &= x^2-4x-5 \\0 &= (x+1)(x-...
11
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3answers
486 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 ...
10
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2answers
151 views

Cognitive demands of a mathematical task

I'm looking for a theoretical framework to classify a task based on its cognitive demand. I only have the Smith and Stein's (1998) proposal and PISA framework such as my principal references. In ...
6
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3answers
310 views

When discussing inverse functions, how can our notation and methods reinforce student understanding?

Yesterday in my precalculus class, I decided to teach students how to find the formula for an inverse function in a new way (to me). In this curriculum, they have already used the notation $f^{-1}(x)$...
0
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3answers
163 views

Advice for Community College Interview Statistics Demonstration

In a few weeks i'll be interviewing at a community college in California for a tenured Mathematics position. They've asked me to present the following in only 12 minutes. I'd appreciate any ...
5
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2answers
188 views

Course of action with 13 year old with weak sense of number and operations

One of my private students is a 13year old girl who started school at age 5 (instead of the regular 6, in my country). Testimony from parents show she had no sense of number at the time, would not ...
4
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0answers
102 views

Research on how to teach math to children - what proven approaches are there to teaching math effectively? [closed]

I posted a related question on the Math.SE, but was directed here where I'm asking an similar but different question. I've been tasked with helping to redesign a math curriculum for an enrichment ...
2
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0answers
198 views

Introduction of the power set as a collection of *labels* or *names* for subsets

The way that naïve set theory is usually presented in undergraduate education is via very concrete examples of sets, often involving non-mathematical elements. When power sets are treated, having a ...
4
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0answers
176 views

Mathematics Self-Efficacy Questionnaire

Good Day! I need help in finding a free validated and reliable tool in assessing (elementary or high school) students' Mathematics Self-Efficacy.
10
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4answers
424 views

Surrounding a subject and strangling it to death versus concentrating on the main point

Standard calculus textbooks begin by introducing limits, including limits of a fraction as the numerator and denominator approach $0,$ limits of a fraction as the numerator and denominator approach $\...
8
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4answers
700 views

May we permit identities to be established by equivalent equations?

A trigonometry text like Sullivan's Algebra & Trigonometry often has a prohibition like this (Sec. 7.3): WARNING: Be careful not to handle identities to be established as if they were ...
7
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1answer
178 views

Easy and good book on combinatorial problems

I am searching for a book on combinatorics and/or mathematical puzzles for very beginners in easy English. The book should not contain detail mathematical expressions, will contain easy understanding ...
13
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7answers
2k views

Problem “seeing” the perimeter of a figure

I was helping a home-schooled student with her homework when we came upon several images of figures that we were supposed to find the perimeter of. In several of the figures, some of the lengths were ...
6
votes
3answers
366 views

What is the ULTIMATE Calculus syllabus

After such amazing answers I got here for a related question (link at the end if someone still wants to share with me their views)... Here is the concept: If you were to create the ULTIMATE Calculus ...
3
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0answers
93 views

what is the standard subdivision or classification of calculus related rates problems?

I am working on a project where I have to group/classify calculus problems. Now with most the calculus topics, it's usually obvious how it's divided in various textbooks, but when it comes to related ...
28
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9answers
7k views

Can mathematics be learned by ONLY solving problems?

Here is the concept: Student is presented with a problem. He/she may not even understand what is being asked, or may attempt. Students reads a solution to the problem. In it there may be ...
6
votes
2answers
302 views

How can I improve my problem solving/critical thinking skills and learn higher math?

I'm a rising sophomore in high school. So far, I've taken Algebra One, Two, and Geometry in school. I want to learn higher math such as precalculus/trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra, and more, so ...
8
votes
1answer
180 views

How can I deal with the time pressure of teaching a short course?

I am an undergraduate applied math student. In about a month, I will be teaching two nine-hour math courses (one precalculus, one calculus) to a small group of motivated high school students. My broad ...
3
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3answers
5k views

Difference between whole numbers and decimal numbers

Clearly, whole numbers specify how many elements there are in a collection while decimal numbers specify how much of a substance there is in a lump---but only after a unit of that substance has been ...
19
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3answers
697 views

Constructive refutation of student misconception

Although @Gareth Shepherd recently posted Addressing fundamental math errors close to the issue, I experienced my problem of misunderstanding in class, where two good K10 students were asked to ...
7
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4answers
439 views

Calculus 3 Teaching Demonstration for Community College Teaching Position

Colleagues. In a few weeks I will be interviewed for a position at a community college. I got selected for an interview and the teaching demonstration is as follows: Assume you are teaching a ...
6
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2answers
194 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 ...
7
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2answers
225 views

How to catch students from different subjects' interest to math?

I have just started to teach Calculus to freshmans and sophomores who study non-mathematical subjects, e.g., international relations, psychology. They have to take few mathematics classes -including ...
4
votes
1answer
169 views

Erasing students' work - etiquette/guidelines?

What are some guidelines on erasing students' work such as on a chalkboard/whiteboard in a classroom or on paper in a private tutorial class? Usually this is for the parts of maths that involves ...
12
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1answer
1k views

How does Project Euler come up with such good problems so rapidly?

Ever since I learned about Project Euler, I have been astonished and wondering about how Colin Hughes (the creator of Project Euler) manages to come up with such problems at such a rapid pace (once a ...
9
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3answers
743 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 ...
3
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3answers
451 views

Mathematical difficulty

There exist a large number of reasons why "mathematics is difficult". If one exclude "subjective reasons" such as: "math anxiety, math fear,..." and education factors ...
16
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3answers
349 views

How to invite humanities students to study mathematics?

This question comes from the perspective of an undergraduate math major who feels that much (although not all) of the mathematical discipline is a liberal art, rather than a science, and should be ...
27
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4answers
880 views

The Undergraduate Responsibility Gradient

We tell undergraduate students that they should study two to three hours for every hour they spend in class. We know that many students don't follow through with this nearly to the degree that they ...
16
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10answers
5k views

Complex numbers in high school

Are complex numbers taught in high school in other countries? I am from Germany and complex numbers are next to never touched in high school with the exception of extra-curricular activities, for ...
7
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1answer
269 views

Why many people believe that: $\displaystyle c>0\implies \frac{1}{c}<0$?

I came across many people who believe the below false implication. I don't know why people believe it true in high school and middle school and also students in university level. Really I would like ...
3
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1answer
235 views

How to ask a student a question to get the answer '…integer not continuous…'

Context: a very basic level statistics package computer lab. A scatter plot is produced for one integer variable versus another integer variable. The students are asked why the points form a grid ...
8
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2answers
350 views

Obtaining printed copies of the textbook series Unified Modern Mathematics

I'm seeking the textbooks that were released in the 1960's call Unified Modern Mathematics. I'm aware 3 parts of the course exist online but I would like to use them in hard copy form. I find these ...
8
votes
2answers
244 views

Ethics of looking at other proofs before submitting work

I am in my third year of undergraduate math, and now that classes are becoming more proof-based, many of my homework questions are proofs of relatively basic concepts that can be found with a quick ...
10
votes
1answer
89 views

How to incorporate optional higher level mathematical content in an Engineering Maths course?

Our department teaches two very large first-year "Mathematical Methods" courses (600-ish students) to Engineering students. The syllabus is dictated by their (future) needs and covers a huge array of ...
9
votes
3answers
282 views

Is proof-based exercise-oriented math course without solution an effective way to teach pure math?

In recent years I have seen several courses in pure math in the undergrad level (year 2, 3, 4) such as real analysis and topology where the entire course consists of: notes written during the lecture ...
2
votes
1answer
332 views

When are partial fractions taught? [closed]

Recently I had taken the SATs, and a question came up that involved partial fractions decomposition. $$\frac{x^2-4x+5}{x-3}$$ This is not the exact problem but a similar one. If the SAT math is ...
10
votes
4answers
686 views

Why are proofs by contradiction counterintuitive?

And how to make them intuitive? We are tasked to prove $P \implies Q$. So we assume $P$ and are trying to prove $Q$. We assume not-$Q$ ($\neg Q$) and derive a contradiction, establishing $Q$. There ...
14
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5answers
620 views

How to get through the boring stuff?

It frequently happens that there's some material I have to cover which is, frankly, boring. The subject itself may be boring, or it may be the particular exercises, but in any case I have to get ...
3
votes
2answers
407 views

Common Core Question: What is included and excluded in high school mathematics?

I took pre-calculus in high school, and I did not get to learn about matrices, and conic sections, vectors law of sines and cosines, and etc. I took geometry as well and found that matrices were also ...
4
votes
3answers
284 views

Monty Hall challenge

Thinking about the counterintuitive Monty Hall Problem (stick or switch?), revisited in this ME question, I thought I would issue a challenge: Give in one (perhaps long) sentence a convincing ...
5
votes
1answer
646 views

Is the current education system as bad as most critics and famous pure mathematicians try to convey? [closed]

Throughout elementary, middle and high school mathematics is quite merely about memorizing concepts and formulas, understanding the theorems (without their proofs) and applying acquired knowledge in ...
12
votes
2answers
193 views

Course-based undergraduate research experiences in math

"Course-based undergraduate research experiences" (CUREs, or CBEs) are being explored in various STEM fields, especially biology, chemistry, geology. Here is one geology link that gives a flavor: "...
7
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1answer
220 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 ...
19
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3answers
1k views

Group theory for high schoolers, want the opinion of other educators

So I am going to be teaching the basics of group theory to high schoolers in a few weeks, and I want to hear what the Stack Exchange network has to say on the matter. What are the applications and ...
12
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4answers
324 views

request for evidence about class perspectives in math word problems

A recent publication: Anita Bright. Education for Whom? Word Problems as Carriers of Cultural Values. Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. (Spring 2016). pp. 6-22. Link No paywall. observes ...
9
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2answers
290 views

Explaining difference between natural numbers, integers, rationals, reals, complex numbers, Gaussian integers

I am teaching an introduction to number theory for high schoolers right now, and there seems to be quite a bit of confusion on what the difference between the natural numbers, the integers, the ...
7
votes
3answers
638 views

A good antonym for reducing/simplifying equivalent fractions

I am looking for a good antonym for reducing/simplifying equivalent fractions: 'reduce' and 'simplify' both make sense to me when dividing, but I'm struggling to name what it is we do when we multiply ...

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