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Questions tagged [undergraduate-education]

For questions about teaching students at the undergraduate (university) level.

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18 views

Topics in Mathematics for a 15 minute demonstration

I need to appear for an interview for the post of Assistant Professor in Mathematics in an undergraduate college. My Backgorund : I have studied topics like Algebra comprising of Group Theory,Ring ...
7
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3answers
840 views

Is is a bad idea to use an old textbook such as Differential and integral calculus, with examples and applications for calculus course?

I am wondering if it is a bad idea to use an old textbook, such as Differential and integral calculus, with examples and applications by George A. Osborne. This book was published in 1906 and there ...
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2answers
77 views

How to introduce Group Theory to a general audience in 15 minutes?

How to introduce Group Theory to a general audience in 15 minutes? I know that it will be quite tough to introduce Groups to a general audience in such a short time. So what will be a good way to ...
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3answers
211 views

Formats for Calculus instruction at different colleges and universities

In the comments under another question, a couple of people expressed interest in how Calculus is taught at the University of Michigan. I'm not convinced a question that narrow is appropriate for this ...
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2answers
87 views

Returning Student for STEM - Brush-Up Resources? [on hold]

All, I am hoping to wade into an Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering degree, but I have been out of college for almost 10 years. My last major exposure to math was good grades in ...
9
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1answer
250 views

Is it the college teacher's responsibility to help the struggling students? [on hold]

I understand that at high school level or below, teachers usually spend extra effort helping those students who are struggling. However, how about at college/university level? Here are two ...
7
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1answer
128 views

Flipped introductory real analysis resources?

I am going to teach a flipped real analysis class next term, using Abbott's book. Does anyone know of resources for such a class? I have found the article: "Flipping the Analysis Classroom" by ...
2
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1answer
94 views

Accessible written proof of the Nash Indifference Theorem (game theory)?

In game theory, the Nash Indifference Theorem states that if a mixed strategy $A$ is a best response to a mixed strategy $B$, then every pure strategy in the support of $A$ is also a best response to $...
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6answers
351 views

How to make students understand/remember that $x^2 = a$ has two solutions?

I teach math in university, in France. This semester I have first-year bachelor students. I am becoming increasingly annoyed that they cannot remember the simple fact that $x^2 = a$ has two solutions ...
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0answers
54 views

Formal linear combinations: motivating examples

I want to introduce formal linear combinations in an upper-level undergraduate combinatorics class. By this I mean expressions like $7 \operatorname{cat} + 5 \operatorname{dog} - \sqrt{2} \...
7
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4answers
171 views

Beyond cubic polynomials: Applications?

Cubic polynomials are crucially important in computer graphics: for example, cubic Bézier curves/surfaces, and cubic splines, which have many practical applications. Essentially visual continuity ...
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0answers
154 views

Succinct description of situations where naively obvious is correct, but for far more complicated reasons?

What is the name for a situation where the obvious thing turns out to be true, but the reasoning is more complicated? In abstract algebra we can say the rational numbers - the fractions, $\mathbb{Q}...
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1answer
145 views

Is it feasible to expose undergraduates to a “map”-centric point of view early on?

Question: Would it be feasible to teach undergraduate math students a "map"-centric view early on? If so, how early on? Now that I'm preparing for a phd program, I'm also reflecting on my ...
3
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2answers
307 views

How is it correct for a lecturer to prove and “explain” a proof while explicitly knowing students are not familiar with logic itself?

I often see a situation when professors use words "logic", "mathematical proof" and even prove logically while actually knowing that students are not even familiar with logic itself, i.e. no formal ...
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0answers
99 views

I’m considering buying Art of Problem Solving. For those who read it, what’s your review of it? [closed]

As you know, Art of Problem Solving includes 11 books that comes with their solutions and they are PreAlgebra, Introduction to Algebra, Introduction to Counting and Probability, Introduction to ...
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1answer
98 views

A robot to simulate differential equations for undergraduate students. [closed]

I was recently at EPFL drone days and enjoyed a demo of a robot that could follow a black line like in the sketch (I can improve the sketch on demand): Then I remembered my good all times at the ...
5
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4answers
150 views

Automatically creating homework worksheets from textbook problems

This semester I am a TA for a Calc 2 course. At my first meeting with my instructor, he mentioned in passing that "Homework is always easier than an exam, because homework questions come from the ...
1
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1answer
107 views

Pythagorean triples

What is the most motivating way to introduct Pythagorean triples to undergraduate students? I am looking for an approach that will have an impact. Good interesting or real life examples will help. Is ...
5
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0answers
76 views

How to create educational linear algebra animations?

I'm looking to create animations for a linear algebra course. I need things like writing and changing equations, including matrices, plotting of 2- and 3-dimensional axes with points, vectors, lines ...
3
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3answers
190 views

What is the best way to assign letter grades in a math class?

Here's the most common way that I've seen letter grades assigned in undergrad math courses. At the end of the semester, the professor: 1) computes the raw score (based on homework, quizzes, and tests) ...
6
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1answer
105 views

Why emphasize moment generating function over characteristic function in a probability course?

I've noticed that some undergraduate introductory probability textbooks and courses emphasize or seem to prefer the moment generating function $m(t) = \mathbf E(e^{tX})$ of a random variable $X$ ...
3
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4answers
157 views

What are standard (or good) textbooks for undergraduate graph theory?

I'll be teaching graph theory this fall for the first time. The only undergraduate graph theory book I am familiar with is Doug West's book, which I like. But I'd like to consult some other ...
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2answers
307 views

Why are proofs written in flowery language incomprehensible?

Let's take an example in Wu-Ki Tung, Group theory in physics: Theorem 3.4: Irreducible representations of any abelian group must be of dimension one. Proof: Let $U(G)$ be an irreducible ...
4
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1answer
117 views

Polar form before Cartesian form when introducing complex numbers

When I teach complex numbers to undergraduate engineering students, I invariably start, as appears to be customary, with $a + bi$ (or $a + bj$ for electrical engineers) and then follow up with the ...
5
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0answers
130 views

Learning math historically

What is meant by learning math historically (NOT learning math history only, but learning math with a historical development perspective)? I've seen some sources that to learn a math topic X, you need ...
5
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2answers
258 views

Trends in math education: Majors? Applied math? Statistics?

I would be quite interested in learning of trends (in the U.S. or internationally) of student interest at the undergraduate level in pure math vs. applied math, say, measured by majors at graduation. ...
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7answers
528 views

Why don’t all professors let students use notes, books, etc. on exams?

Last semester I had a teacher who let us use any type of information in the exam, for example the course notes, books, solved exercises, etc. The only thing he did not let us use was something ...
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2answers
89 views

Subject advice in Number Theory [closed]

At my University, we have the optional feature to write a project like a Bachelor Thesis. This semester have finished and I would like to work in the summer in project like this. So, I'm searching for ...
3
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2answers
112 views

Supplemental text for undergraduate real analysis

Context: I am an assistant professor at a small college in the US. Next semester I am teaching real analysis for the first time, and we are using Steven R. Lay's book. (It also happens to be the ...
9
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1answer
235 views

How to deal with poor students who don't take notes?

I want to set the context for me asking this question before stating it properly. I teach at college/university level. This question deals with first-year students, fresh from school. So think ...
4
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3answers
214 views

Teaching science and engineering students the field of inverse problems

There is a Mathematics Stack Exchange question on a good book on inverse problems for engineers. Here, I would like to ask for suggestions on how to approach teaching undergraduate upper-division ...
4
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3answers
205 views

Limit of questions that a student should ask in class without upsetting professor?

Days ago a professor told me to ask in class when I don't understand something and that he could keep explaining until it's clear for me. Being honest I'm a little slow to understand mathematics in ...
5
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3answers
303 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 ...
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8answers
3k views

What is the point of teaching variance?

I am a teaching assistant for a sophomore engineering laboratory. We use standard deviation a lot during the semester. It is an incredibly useful concept that can be used in a lot of engineering ...
10
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3answers
219 views

Can or should students do research in standard major math courses

The following is an expectation for our "course-based research initiative". I'll include the complete wording so you can best understand my question. Designing a Research Proposal/Project ...
4
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0answers
138 views

Intuition: 5 regular polyhedra, 6 regular 4-polytopes, and then 3 regular d-polytopes

I have struggled to offer an intuitive explanation (to U.S. college students) why the number of regular polytopes in dimension $d$ is: $d=2$, number: $\infty$. $d=3$, number: $5$, the five Platonic ...
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3answers
233 views

How to resolve the new definition of subtraction and division seen in college algebra?

Here's the foundational thing that irritates me the most when teaching college algebra. Up through the secondary level, I think that instructors and students are trained to understand subtraction and ...
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1answer
196 views

How to teach ordinary differential equations to good students?

I am TA-ing a introductory course on ODEs and PDEs this year. At my university most introductory math courses can be taken at "basic" and "extended" levels. This one is the extended one. My students ...
4
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1answer
125 views

Reference request: undergraduate combinatorial topology

I teach at an American research 1 university. I am planning a course on combinatorial topology for undergraduates whose background is: multivariable calculus linear algebra at least one proof course ...
14
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3answers
343 views

What to do if all students lack prerequisites?

I am teaching a calculus class for business this summer (6 students) and all of them do not have the math background needed for the class. We are supposed to cover derivatives and integrals, but they ...
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4answers
600 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, ...
6
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2answers
149 views

Effective Assessment that's Easy to Grade

A colleague of mine will be teaching 3 classes (pre-calculus and two sections of calculus, at the university level) next semester with an additional grader in only one of those classes (pre-calculus). ...
3
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1answer
228 views

Why do the stages of rigorousness have specific timestamps?

This is a reduced quote from There’s more to mathematics than rigour and proofs of Terrence Tao (emphasis mine): The “pre-rigorous” stage, in which mathematics is taught in an informal, ...
2
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1answer
131 views

Why aren't Bayesian Networks and Variable Elimination introduced earlier?

Throughout my undergrad, I dreaded probability. I hated it, I was horrible in it, I just never got it, and felt stupid when the professors used "summation/marginalization" equations out of the blue to ...
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2answers
262 views

Why most people think that :$(fg)'=f' \cdot g'$?

let $f$ and $g $ be two real valued function , I have asked many students what is the derivative of $(fg)'$ they answered me :it is $f' \cdot g'$, then I seek why most people (students) guess that ?
3
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1answer
137 views

Effective computer lab layouts for a university math class

Many math classes benefit from occasionally being held in a computer lab. My question is about the pros and cons of different layouts and mechanics of a lab and "solutions" you have found to be ...
4
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2answers
97 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 ...
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2answers
197 views

Computational Software for the whole curriculum and beyond

Our (United States, undergraduate) math program is considering the idea of putting more mathematical modeling and computation into all levels of our curriculum. One of the hang-ups is that we can't ...
3
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0answers
90 views

How to explain concepts of limit and continuity to non-mathematical students

How to explain fundamental concepts of limits and continuity to a non-mathematical background student? I am a PhD student in Mathematics working in Differential Geometry. As a part of my teaching ...
11
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1answer
154 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 ...