Questions tagged [undergraduate-education]

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

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4
votes
4answers
172 views

What math courses should I take in order to become a secondary math educator?

Seeing as this is the math educator site, perhaps someone can help me out: I am looking to become a math teacher, but I am having a hard time figuring out which math courses I need to be taking. ...
0
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0answers
39 views

Is it too late to study physics properly now that I am a 3rd year undergrad? [closed]

This may seem a bit silly. I am 21 years old 3rd physics undergraduate. Even, after taking a three year undergrad physics course it feels like I haven't really understood what I learnt, didn't learn ...
5
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6answers
2k views

Teaching Calculus I to engineers

I am in a research project where one of our jobs is improving the first year university experience for our students. One of the topics we are looking into is changing the way we teach our introductory ...
1
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1answer
139 views

Math undergrad courses [closed]

Awhile back I was very weak with my trigonometry so I came to this site asking for help, and it turned out the few answers I got made a huge difference. I excelled at the trigonometry section in my ...
8
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2answers
120 views

How to read chained equalities out loud?

I find that my community-college students are usually very hazy on the status and meaning of chained equality statements (or other relational statements). This seems like a really critical element of ...
0
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0answers
88 views

How to teach year 3 undergraduate courses to high school students?

I see on the webpage of a high school math summer program, SuMac, that they will cover some algebraic topology in a period of several weeks. And they covered every aspect of this subject, including ...
7
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3answers
443 views

Doing research projects when one's knowledge is limited: is it preferable?

In some universities, high schools, and summer programs, students are required to do their own research project in maths and write their own essays/research papers. At the same time, however, many ...
5
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2answers
243 views

Redesigning college math courses and curriculum to be self-paced

I imagine there must exist a fair amount of literature and discussion about the idea of somehow redesigning college math courses, and the entire college math curriculum, to be self-paced. Question: ...
2
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1answer
143 views

Why teaching undergraduate-level mathematics is so complicated? [closed]

Many of my professors are experts in their field, but they are just not able to teach. I mean: most of the times they are confusing, don't follow a logic sequence in their speech or keep a superior ...
3
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2answers
308 views

How to teach linear programming and reductions?

Do you know any textbook with problems+solutions to support teaching of linear programming and reductions, and in particular, cover standard and slack forms, formulation of problems as linear programs,...
17
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7answers
5k views

Learn university maths or train for high school competitions: which is better?

I sometimes see people arguing against concentrating too many resources in high school maths competition (such as IMO) training. Their reasons they give are usually the following: Competitions are a ...
5
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1answer
116 views

Developing abductive (problem-solving) skills

I am looking for long-term (over the course of many semesters) strategies, including specific types of in-class activities, for developing the abilities of students to come up with intermediate steps ...
4
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2answers
215 views

How much math would a non-STEM major have studied in 1950?

I've spoken to several people who attended US universities in the decades before I was born, and I was somewhat surprised to find that it seemed to be common (based on the anecdotes I received) for ...
34
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11answers
4k views

Beautiful planar geometry theorems not encountered in high school

I would like to impress college students (undergraduates in the U.S.) that there is more to planar geometry beyond what they learned in high school. I would like to show them beautiful theorems they ...
3
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5answers
333 views

Are degrees of polynomials illogically defined in elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra courses?

In most of books on elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra, the degree of the non-zero polynomial $$f(x)=a_nx^n+\cdots a_1x+a_0$$ with $a_n\neq 0$ is defined to be $n$. But I ...
-2
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1answer
57 views

Where can I find the partial order relation of prerequisites of undergraduate courses in the United States?

Let $A$ be the set of all undergraduate mathematical courses in the US and define a binary relation $\leq$ on $A$ such that for elements $a,b\in A$ (that is, $a$, $b$ are undergraduate mathematical ...
2
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2answers
140 views

Which textbooks on College Algebra, Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, Linear Algebra, ODE are written by world-class mathematicians?

For example, Trigonometry was written by Wolf-Prize winner Israel Gelfand, one of the top mathematicians in the 20th century. I am wondering if other world-class mathematicians have written textbooks ...
14
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8answers
1k views

How do you attract more math majors at a liberal arts college math department?

It seems to me that we all might benefit from an answer to this question, since math departments must defend their performance within their institutions. I imagine there will be standard answers like:...
8
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2answers
1k views

Take-Home Examination on Ordinary Differential Equations?

I am planning to give my students a take-home examination on ODE. The main topic that I would like to cover is Linear Differential Equations of Order Greater than One. For example, I will give my ...
3
votes
0answers
81 views

The propagation of the wave equation in even versus odd dimension

I am about to teach a second year undergraduate class on applied differential equation (first time) and, while I won't have time to go into the details, I wanted to show my students the difference ...
19
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8answers
2k views

How can I learn to write better questions to test for conceptual understanding?

I'm worried that I'm bad at realizing when a question I've written requires little or no conceptual understanding to answer. Like, when I'm writing a question for a homework assignment or exam, I'll ...
6
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2answers
146 views

Why is there an emphasis on analysis courses in undergrad progams?

In undergraduate maths study, there are three main areas: analysis, algebra, and geometry. (There are of course other small topics as well, but they don't have to be learnt by every student.) I have ...
-1
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1answer
136 views

How helpful are university subject rankings when choosing a place to study math?

There are many university ranking consultancies trying to compare one leading maths department with another and to conclude which one is better. Although this doesn't seem to be a very reasonable ...
8
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0answers
85 views

tutorial active learning

This is a question I asked on [Academia.se]. It did not get an answer, so I am re-posting it here. In the country where I live, university students studying mathematics usually attend lectures, ...
9
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8answers
2k views

How to explain that the sums of numerators over sums of denominators isn't the same as the mean of ratios?

I am a teaching assistant for an intro programming course. One assignment asked for the averages of a certain ratio, but most students, rather than returning $$\frac{\text{sum of all ratios}}{\text{...
1
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1answer
139 views

How to improve mathematical skills(University level)?

I am doing Ph.D in Mathematics, I feel I lack few of the skills, if I can improve those skills I think I can do better as a Math scholar. I need some suggestion on these following(below I am talking ...
1
vote
1answer
108 views

Calculus book for basic calculus and repetition from videregående (Norwegian high school)

Does there exist a textbook in Norwegian (bokmål and nynorsk should both be fine) that covers the more advanced mathematics (needed for calculus) from videregående (secondary school, includes both ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Applied ODEs for Numerical Methods

I am looking for a list of ODEs to use as examples in the teaching of a numerical methods course for engineers. I am looking for first and second order examples - the more applied (to engineering) ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Asking students to define “unique”

Context: This is for introductory linear algebra course, near the beginning. As a sort of "exit survey" after one of my lectures, I would like to ask my students to try and define what "unique" is ...
14
votes
7answers
441 views

How should students say in words the notation for a limit?

$$\lim_{x\rightarrow a} f(x)=L$$ Which way should students best get in the habit of? The limit of $f(x)$, as $x$ approaches $a$, equals $L$ The limit of $f(x)$ equals $L$, as $x$ approaches $a$ The ...
4
votes
1answer
222 views

The most transparent exposition of Bayes' Theorem

I am seeking the most transparent exposition of Bayes' Theorem (for undergraduates). I would prefer to avoid mentioning "prior" and "posterior," and instead focus on frequencies. The Wikipedia entry ...
11
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4answers
407 views

Why is absolute value difficult?

My understanding is that students find absolute value to be challenging to learn or understand. Off the top of my head, I can come up with two possible reasons for this. Absolute value is a piecewise ...
18
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5answers
8k views

What is the most difficult concept to grasp in Calculus 1?

I would say it is not the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, but rather some notion connecting limits and continuity, perhaps the $(\epsilon,\delta)$-definitions of limits and continuity. But I would be ...
13
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6answers
3k views

Is it a bad idea to offer variants of a final exam based on the type of allowed calculators?

Background/rant: I am in charge of teaching our single quarter course on vector calculus (don't ask me why the department head thinks the area can be covered in half a semester). The two biggest ...
11
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2answers
366 views

Introductory real analysis before or after introductory abstract algebra?

What are the pros and cons for students of taking introductory real analysis before or after introductory abstract algebra, assuming they are going to take both? I recognize that the overlap between ...
15
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4answers
501 views

Why are the contents of contest maths so different from contents of degree-level maths?

I wonder why topics examined in high school math contests are so different from the maths learned by those who are seriously studying a math major at a university. Firstly, contests like IMO, ARML, ...
9
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1answer
145 views

Motivation vs. Rigor

This is such a vague topic that I hesitate to post. I constantly struggle between the time-tradeoff between motivating a topic, and delving into the rigorous details necessary to fully "grok" the ...
10
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1answer
2k views

Diagram of Methods to Solve Differential Equations

I am currently trying to build a flow chart to visualize all tests there are to tell whether an ordinary differential equation is solvable and how to solve it. This is for tutoring purposes. The ...
6
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3answers
360 views

“Out of fashion” topics in degree level math

I just had a look at the curriculum of a university's math faculty 100 years ago. Most of the topics there are the same as the topics taught today, including complex analysis, differential equations, ...
-2
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4answers
256 views

Inefficient methods

I see many teachers use slow methods to solve a given problem where there's another faster methods that doesn't demand much more effort. I'm not looking for mistakes like saying that $a$ is the slope ...
10
votes
4answers
216 views

Delivering mathematics lectures via tablet and projector

Owing to an injury, I need an alternative solution for delivering a semester-long mathematics course that I was originally going to teach using chalk and blackboard. It seems that a good option might ...
5
votes
2answers
156 views

How to intuitively convince the students that a strip with two full twists is homeomorphic to the standard annulus?

Intuitively speaking, one space is homemorphic to another if one can be deformed continuously to another without tearing and gluing. It is more or less easy to convince the students that a square is ...
8
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2answers
454 views

What's the point of exercises without answers?

What is the point of exercises for which answers aren't provided? (That is to say, what is the pedagogical justification for such exercises? - Edit by someone other than original poster.) Commentary ...
8
votes
3answers
377 views

MacLane-Birkhoff's “Algebra” vs Jacobson's “Basic Algebra I,II” vs Lang's “Algebra”

(Cross-posted at Math.Stackexchange) I'm searching for an apt textbook(s) on Abstract Algebra for a very advanced undergraduate/graduate level course in Algebra, and would be grateful for any help. ...
16
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12answers
7k views

Is there a simple example that empirical evidence is misleading?

Suppose that I want to show a student that empirical evidence in mathematics is not enough and we do need proofs, what kind of examples can I use? By empirical evidence, I mean that (most of the time)...
4
votes
2answers
249 views

How to justify that students should come to class?

Nowadays, a student should be able to learn the course material at home through reading the textbook or follow one of the many free online courses. Some universities record video or audio of lectures ...
3
votes
6answers
257 views

What is an interesting high-school level topic to discuss using Mathematica or Geogebra?

I have to choose a topic to give a presentation. The topic should be high-school level or at most Linear Algebra 1 and Calculus 1. Conics and polygons in the Euclidean geometry are some fine topics ...
3
votes
1answer
145 views

Naming arbitrary constants: subscripts, primes, or just more letters?

When choosing names for arbitrary constants either during a lesson or while working with a single student, should one use$\{n_1,n_2,n_3,\dotsc\}$ or $\{n, n', n'', \dotsc\}$ or $\{a,b,c,\dotsc\}$? Is ...
10
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0answers
268 views

Use of Lockhart's *Measurement* in a course?

I greatly admire Paul Lockhart's Measurement (Harvard Press). Many of you know him through A Mathematician's Lament. One review of Measurement said, “Here Lockhart offers the positive side of the ...
4
votes
1answer
126 views

What is the notation for polynomial long division in Norway?

I will be teaching a calculus-type course in Norwegian. Our textbook is unfortunately in English (the curse of a small language), but any custom exercises should be and all exams have to be in ...