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Questions tagged [student-motivation]

For questions concerning the motivation of students and helping them to motivate for their study in general.

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31 votes
4 answers
7k views

When is it appropriate to warn about the difficulty of a subject?

I've been a TA across every class in the calculus sequence, under the assignment of professors with different teaching styles and curricula. It's often clear to me ahead of time when a certain subject ...
4 votes
2 answers
675 views

Parkour and Mathematical Practice?

Learning mathematics and learning parkour seem to have a lot in common. Both can be done on varying levels, but to progress in either one needs to overlearn and build basic skills so that these skills ...
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

Dominance of connectives: Why do we teach this?

These were two actual exercises given to students I have been tutoring for a college algebra class: I have been working very hard to convince my students of the importance and utility of learning ...
3 votes
1 answer
224 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, ...
42 votes
5 answers
3k views

How can I help a student who has a "wrong" kind of enthusiasm?

Alice (not real name) is a student in one of my Math 100 (calculus) classes. It's a course offered by my college as a dual credit course at a high school, so the whole class is about 17/18 years old, ...
41 votes
23 answers
7k views

How should I answer questions about the purpose of learning math?

What are some good answers to questions e.g. "why do we need to study square roots"? Of course the answer depends highly on who is asking. For the scope of my question, I have a student in ...
9 votes
7 answers
467 views

Loaning students calculators during exams

Context: I am an associate professor at a small liberal arts institution in the US. I find in my introductory business math course that students sometimes fail to buy a calculator for the course, ...
28 votes
10 answers
9k views

How to justify teaching students to rationalize denominators?

I'm teaching an "intermediate algebra" college course ($\approx$ junior high school or beginning high school algebra) and we have a bunch of problems on rationalizing denominators. How do I motivate ...
17 votes
14 answers
13k views

How is education in mathematics relevant to law?

Many students who take courses in mathematics go on to pursue "non-mathematical" careers. I'm wondering, in particular, about those who go on to study Law, and how mathematics is (or can be made) ...
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Explaining Sigma-Notation

I attempted to introduce the summation notation $\Sigma$ to my students. The notation was unfamiliar to the students beforehand. I worked through many examples with them, but for most of them, working ...
38 votes
18 answers
9k views

How do I show students the Beauty of Mathematics?

I teach many high school students, and all of them complain about being unable to fully understand mathematical concepts. I try to show them the joy of learning and deepen their understanding through ...
11 votes
4 answers
624 views

How to stay interested in less-tangible math

I've graduated high school and I am joining college soon. The problem with me is that I'm not finding less tangible math interesting at all. Some people find abstract math to be very beautiful, and I'...
14 votes
8 answers
2k views

What is gratifying in being a mathematics teacher?

I think the title says it all, but in case it does not: Is being a math teacher gratifying? If yes, what is gratifying in being a math teacher? (If not, why...) Does the feeling lasts, or perhaps ...
4 votes
1 answer
232 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 (...
7 votes
8 answers
2k views

List of realistic extremum problems

I am a student who would like to become a teacher, so I am currently following courses in education. One of the things I learned, is that students like authentic, realistic problems. However, much of ...
12 votes
7 answers
3k views

Does induction really avoid proving an infinite number of claims?

I am teaching calculus $1$ this semester, and I saw the following motivation for using induction by another teacher: Since we can't go over "manually proving" all claims $1,2,\ldots$ and ...
64 votes
13 answers
9k views

How to get past the "mystique" of Maths

This question is primarily discussing maths education for adult learners, on courses teaching engineering mathematics at an undergraduate level. These students generally never set out specifically to ...
14 votes
2 answers
535 views

Research on how mathematics skills transfer to other areas

Briefly: I am looking for research on the extent to which learning mathematics (let's say "college algebra" if we want to be specific) impacts problem solving skills, abstract reasoning, etc. Less ...
29 votes
17 answers
7k views

Examples of Innumeracy

I read Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos and would like to share more up-to-date and relevant examples of innumeracy to motivate my grade 8, 9 & 10 students. Are there any websites, blogs, books, ...
15 votes
11 answers
4k views

What are some research-level opportunities in mathematics that do not focus on proofs?

The research level of mathematics (what is done by professors and upper-level graduate students) tends to be heavily portrayed as focused on writing proofs to the exclusion of most anything else math-...
21 votes
5 answers
2k views

Teaching a student who refuses to learn

How to deal with a student who refuses to learn? I've met a few of those over the years as a a private-class math teacher. They don't want to learn anything about the subject. Some of them are just ...
10 votes
10 answers
966 views

What are examples of math-themed sci-fi appropriate for students?

What are examples of sci-fi books or short stories that have a mathematics theme? I'd like to have a pool of examples in mind that I could refer students to. The only example I've got in mind right ...
-1 votes
2 answers
421 views

Motivating Students Through "Random Teaching"

I am recently into a sort of teaching which I shall term "Random Teaching". It involves: Asking student for a random word (not related to math remotely, say "cake") Preforming a ...
3 votes
1 answer
253 views

What kind of general advice for studying math we can offer undergraduate studens who do not major in math?

I have received request from a student, who is not in math major, asking me for advice on How to keep motivated when studying math (calculus, linear algebra, etc.) What does one need to do beyond ...
32 votes
8 answers
2k views

How to solve the problem of Wolfram Alpha?

I teach to predominantly non-majors in college algebra, precalculus, and calculus. How can one possibly incentivize or rationalize assigning practice problems outside of class when this software is ...
7 votes
6 answers
647 views

Neat topics or problems to include in a probability class

I'd like to get suggestions for neat topics or problems to include in an undergraduate, upper division Introduction to Probability class. Many people have taught probability for many years and I'm ...
15 votes
5 answers
798 views

What are some recent, interesting, accessible pieces of mathematics

Mathematics can come across as a sterile, dead subject - a catalogue of techniques long-ago decided, and forever relearned by each successive generation of students. This is approximately true for ...
37 votes
10 answers
9k views

Combative students in proofs classes

When teaching my first discrete math class recently, I found a subset of about 5 out of 35 of my primarily computer science students who I struggled to reach. If these students simply struggled with ...
8 votes
3 answers
479 views

I'm worried that my struggles with calc 2 mean I won't be able to become a professor later

I have just turned 18 and am in calculus BC (calc 1 & calc 2). I most certainly grasp and understand the concepts of calc 1 however every once in a while a I seem to struggle with the calc 2 work. ...
44 votes
4 answers
3k views

Teaching undergraduates who expect a high-school-like learning environment

tl;dr: Some students expect to be told "what's on the test", to memorize and then move on. What can be done to change how they learn while teaching them what to learn? Context: Introductory, ...
5 votes
2 answers
279 views

How can I encourage students to show up for exercise classes?

I am doing a maths PhD and naturally that involves leading exercise classes for undergraduate students. The idea is that the students just show up and work through the problem set and I'm there to ...
37 votes
13 answers
3k views

Examples why university education is important for future high school teachers

At my university, the students in math are mixed up (1/3-1/2 are bachelor/master students, the rest are future high school teachers). A problem arising very often is the discussion dramatically ...
7 votes
5 answers
468 views

Creating an Engaging Class Atmosphere

I would like to start out next year by creating a classroom community. This year I noticed a lot of burnout towards the second half of the year. Basically, I want to see what kinds of games/activities ...
27 votes
15 answers
3k views

What books are like Knuth's Surreal Numbers?

I'm looking to find more examples of books which bridge the gap between "story" and "mathematics" using narrative and all those other wonderful features we might find in Harry Potter or some other ...
35 votes
15 answers
9k views

Justifications for: Why learn mathematics?

I wonder how you teachers walk the line between justifying mathematics because of its many—and sometimes surprising—applications, and justifying it as the study of one of the great ...
8 votes
4 answers
383 views

Make a matrix algebra course (1st university year) more "project-based"

Among other courses, I'm teaching a (basic) matrix algebra course for 1st year university students (they are studying Economics, and the cursus leads them to management, finance, or econometrics in ...
6 votes
0 answers
314 views

Links between mathematical folklore and educational success

I would like to ask if, in the research field of mathematical education, some work has been done to investigate the relationship between 1) and 2): mathematical education and student motivation the ...
5 votes
2 answers
336 views

Curving grades without creating competition among students [closed]

I've recently taken a new position within a math department at a large university. The department has an official policy that in most lower-level undergraduate classes (let's say anything in the ...
38 votes
6 answers
4k views

How can I give feedback that is not demotivating?

Background: To cope with online education, I taught linear algebra using a variant of the flipped classroom. I recorded videos and put them up on YouTube and students presented the content in these ...
2 votes
3 answers
909 views

Struggling with Math Skills and When to Quit

Until this point I have felt inspired to study math and looked forward to my classes. But lately I've been having difficulty with my math skills, where I keep making errors over problems I had ...
-1 votes
1 answer
206 views

Can I motivate kids to do math by giving them candies? [closed]

I am talking about literally asking for kids' time/attention by offering them candies: not giving them tasks about summing real candies, etc. I try to teach math from time to time to my relatives of ...
0 votes
2 answers
301 views

Future in mathematics

My sibling is done with high school and has always scored A in Maths and am not in position to advise her on the future in line of her niche. She's not yet in university and she's in her vacation but ...
29 votes
6 answers
971 views

How can we help students who are very anxious about math?

In many parts of the world, the majority of the population is uncomfortable with math. In a few countries this is not the case. We would do well to change our education systems to promote a healthier ...
17 votes
4 answers
3k views

What are some of the open problems that can be suitably introduced in a calculus course?

I feel it may be a good idea to introduce some related open problems in a calculus course. Surely I am not expecting my students to solve any one of them, though I cannot say it is absolutely ...
5 votes
4 answers
1k views

Falling into the calculus trap

I am a student, in my last year of school(17 years old) When I was about 13 years old I fell into the calculus trap by starting off learning trigonometry on my own, when I was supposed to factor ...
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

"Feynman effect" in teaching mathematics

In his book "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman", Richard Feynman relates the following story. As he was supervising a group of calculators for Manhattan project, he at some point gave them a lecture on ...
2 votes
2 answers
129 views

Multiple extra credit questions in a homework set

Extra credit questions sometimes motivate students to study more. Occasionally I find several valuable questions which are all good as extra credit question choices but I have to limit the number of ...
10 votes
5 answers
3k views

Everyday Example Problems for Solving Linear and Quadratic Equations

I am going to teach some grade 9 students about solving linear and quadratic equations. I am looking for a question from every day life (of a teenager) or a puzzle which is hard to solve without using ...
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to engage low-level students?

I'm a recent graduate in my first year of teaching. I teach secondary students, and I have found that some low-level students are not listening in class. They seem to have given up and stopped trying. ...
2 votes
2 answers
195 views

Introductory exercise for the addition of large natural numbers

I'm starting a repetition with my students in 5th grade after they learned in elementary school how to sum up larger natural numbers (also 5- to 6-digits) by writing down that calculation. As ...