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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51
votes
13answers
8k 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 ...
49
votes
13answers
11k views

How do I motivate my students to go to office hours?

I'm currently TAing a Linear Algebra class where a significant portion of the class is struggling, oftentimes getting marked down on homeworks or tests because they misunderstand some concept (rather ...
34
votes
4answers
934 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, ...
31
votes
3answers
991 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, ...
30
votes
13answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
9answers
6k views

What to do with students who think they “already know it,” but actually don't?

Many students take calculus or algebra courses in high school, then later take college courses of the same name. There are various reasons for this, but in most cases the students in a college ...
29
votes
14answers
8k 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 ...
28
votes
8answers
2k views

How to react to students saying that they are allergic to applied mathematics?

I'm working in the field of applied mathematics (optimization and numerics) and I meet a lot of students saying that they are allergic to applied mathematics or that they hate it or some quotes like "...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

How to encourage women to study mathematics?

What are different ways we can get women to study mathematics? In my own experience, the higher the math class, the less women in the class. Most women tend to go on the math education track and do ...
26
votes
17answers
5k 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, ...
26
votes
5answers
954 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 ...
25
votes
9answers
7k 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 ...
25
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
25
votes
6answers
705 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
771 views

How to tactfully discourage casual, implicit disparagement of mathematics

I volunteer with a group that provides tutoring to kids from grades nine through twelve. The included kids have been determined to be 'at risk of not graduating high school'. Of course, many of the ...
23
votes
7answers
2k views

What arguments can I give a high school student why mathematics is important?

In almost all countries all over the world, mathematics is a main subject in school. Maybe the subject bringing trouble to families with kids. It is clear that scientist, engineers, etc. need ...
22
votes
13answers
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 ...
22
votes
3answers
451 views

How to teach perseverance?

I have found that when I give problems that require multiple steps or ideas to solve, students often give up quickly and come to office hours begging for hints. Sometimes I break up such problems ...
19
votes
15answers
999 views

What is fairly new theorem one can teach (and prove) to an undergraduate student?

Many students complain about how old the things in mathematics are. When students finish their undergraduate studies, there are usually not able to state results and prove them which were found after ...
19
votes
4answers
657 views

How to help motivate math when tutoring low level algebra (High school)

I was tutoring a student today and we were doing basic factoring of quadratics and expanding terms like $(x+2)(x+5)$. Now he ended up being able to do this by the end of our 2 and a half hour session, ...
19
votes
5answers
360 views

Should I tell my students that math is hard for me?

I have read and heard from some other instructors that they attempt to encourage students who find math hard by saying "math is hard for me too, in fact it's hard for everyone!" I have tried this a ...
19
votes
8answers
6k views

What's a good policy for accepting late homework?

There are a lot of ways of handling late homework submissions, of which I've only tried a few. The general policy I've settled on is something like the following. Homework must be submitted at the ...
18
votes
7answers
4k views

Should students be told they're wrong

I base this question off where I got my motivation for math and science. Throughout several attempts in my junior years, I was able to design a perpetual motion machine, design a free energy device, ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

Motivating the study of matrices

In Brazil's curriculum students are taught matrices in high school. Here, however, there is no linear algebra or pre-calculus, therefore matrices end up being just tables with lots of "arbitrary" ...
17
votes
3answers
791 views

How to deal with very motivated students having “off-topic” interests?

There are some very motivated students who are very interested in math (in general), where the interest takes over most of their time. The problem is that they don't put enough time in the lecture ...
16
votes
5answers
408 views

How do you revise?

I'm not too sure if this is the right place for my question, but I couldn't think of anywhere more suited. I am a first year university Math student, I am currently revising for six end of year ...
16
votes
5answers
458 views

Making standards for “showing work” explicitly clear to students

I do not mean for this thread to be a discussion of whether or not students should show work on an exam, whether they should be docked points for just "seeing" an answer and writing it down, whether ...
15
votes
13answers
2k views

Mnemonics for some properties in mathematics

I am looking for various mnemonics which help students to remember some important properties or theorems. Very often students confuse signs or relations such as $\leq$ and $\geq$ in some expressions. ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Overload of Calculus homework assignments

I am a new calculus teacher in a high school for gifted students. I am the youngest teacher, I am not in my home country, and this country particularly values age and experience, so I have little room ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

The general and particular in the psychology of mathematics education

Many students I have spoken with who are drawn to becoming mathematics teachers chose their mathematics major because they enjoyed doing routine exercises in high school. The comfort of a definite and ...
14
votes
3answers
750 views

What can be done to instill good habits in students?

This question might sound vague, but I'm really just looking for particular examples that worked for you. From my experience, it seems like a large portion of "weak" students remain weak despite ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

Interacting with high school teachers (US)

I am a parent of a HS freshman who is taking precalc/trig now. His teacher is pretty much useless; my son has to come to me or my wife (let's just say that each of us has about 100+ college and ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Interesting Math Posters

Our undergraduate university department is looking to spruce up our rooms and hallways a bit and has been thinking about finding mathematical posters to put in various spots; hoping possibly to entice ...
13
votes
4answers
501 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
567 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
188 views

How to create and support a mathematics club or group that will last?

Math clubs and groups tend to be small and prone to dying out. Once the organizers or members graduate, the club no longer exists. At my university, I have seen the creation and death of two ...
13
votes
2answers
682 views

What are some activities/projects I can assign to calculus students from bio/chem/physics majors to specifically motivate their interest?

(This question was proposed during the area51 phase.) It's common for chemistry/biology/physics majors to be required to take certain calculus courses. At my school, chem/bio students must take up ...
13
votes
3answers
227 views

Counterexamples to “stable digit” theory of error estimates

When covering issues related to error estimates in a calculus course, students find the technique of making estimates (definition of limit, Newton's method, numerical integration, remainder formula ...
12
votes
8answers
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
411 views

Use of mathematical humor suitable for motivation/explaination?

There are some intelligent jokes also explaining (in a very extreme way) how mathamticas works, for exameple A mathematician and a physicist are sitting in the teachers lounge. Suddenly the ...
12
votes
5answers
610 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
295 views

Teaching new stats students confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and other general techniques for inference

I have instructed for community colleges and adjuncted for major universities for just over fifteen years now. In all my time doing this job, I've found that the worst manifestation of so-called "...
12
votes
4answers
379 views

Explaining subjects whose justification requires demanding technical content

This is my first question and I hope it's appropriate. Often in the process of teaching a subject I start with examples of a phenomenon, exhibiting similar properties between the examples and ...
12
votes
2answers
273 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

What can be done to improve the standard of mathematics in South Africa?

My name is Tammy and I am a high school math teacher in South Africa. In 2012, SA was ranked last IN THE WORLD wrt to math and in 2013 we were ranked second last. Despite the fact that R253.8 billion ...
11
votes
4answers
7k views

How to work with polynomials in difficult classes?

I am currently teaching a very difficult class, with young people (16 years old) who are deeply unmotivated and restless. I should work with them with polynomials, but I'm having a troublesome time; ...
11
votes
2answers
405 views

Students who have succeeded before but are not succeeding now

Here is a common process I witness in office hours: Student struggles with a difficult concept. Student gains understanding of the concept. Student, now bewildered since the concept is mastered, ...
11
votes
2answers
266 views

Encourage students to strive for understanding despite looming exams

I am teaching an exercice section for a group of students who have (rather difficult and long) exams every two weeks. The students are focussed on the exams and barely willing to take the time to ...
11
votes
2answers
877 views

How early to start “abstract” math education, or, How to prevent smart kids from never getting exposed to math?

Everybody who is in graduate mathematics had a moment where they realized that mathematics was "their thing", and they decided to dedicate their academic career to it. I don't know of many people who ...
11
votes
2answers
296 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'...