Questions tagged [undergraduate-education]

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

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6
votes
7answers
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 ...
0
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0answers
49 views

How to teach students how to find the domain and range of a function, using DESMOS? [closed]

My question is about using DESMOS.com to find the domain and range of a function. Please note, I am not looking for for domain and range restrictions in the application; this is easy, for me. I want ...
10
votes
4answers
354 views

Placing incoming college freshmen: basic algebra, pre-calc, calc

Assume that you have incoming college freshmen, so you might have access to their high school courses and grades, as well as their results on a placement test offered by your college. Also, assume ...
4
votes
4answers
200 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
votes
0answers
43 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
140 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 ...
31
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1answer
1k views

Metonymy in mathematics

Metonymy is a figure of speech where a word or another expression is used to mean something other than its literal meaning. This phenomenon is not restricted to the "usual human languages" (such as ...
0
votes
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
446 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 ...
26
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6answers
613 views

Would taking 5 minutes to explain the history behind a mathematical idea help stimulate learning the idea?

I read a paper in my "Research Issues in Mathematical Education" class that I have applied to the Undergraduate Calculus I and Calculus II class that I teach. I take five minutes to explain the ...
4
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2answers
216 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
248 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: ...
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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
383 views

How to teach Leibniz and Newton's notation

There has been many posts here and in MSE about different notations of differentiation. See for example this, this and this. However, those questions only deal with the common misunderstanding about ...
3
votes
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,...
4
votes
2answers
136 views

In a typical 3rd-semester multivariate calculus course in the US, what kind of area integrals do students actually learn to do?

I teach mostly physics and a little math at a California community college. I've never taught the multivariate calculus course, but I have taught the electricity and magnetism course for which the ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

Extremely “hard” books (or handouts) for undergrad studies

Can you suggest me some REALLY hard books on calculus and analysis. By hard I don't mean difficult in explanations, but with extremely challenging exercises (all worked out if possible) and useful ...
34
votes
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 ...
11
votes
3answers
396 views

Common phrases having different meaning

When talking with students it frequently happens that they misunderstand what you meant. The common example is the amount of rigor that one would consider "a proof", but there are other things, like ...
5
votes
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 ...
-1
votes
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 ...
3
votes
5answers
334 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
442 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
671 views

Emphasizing the discrete in early undergraduate education?

From time to time, I have come across course ideas emphasizing the discrete over the continuous, such as Peter Saveliev's Fantasy Math curriculum (update: see also his material on discrete calculus) ...
17
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3answers
1k views

Computational topology for engineers

Increasingly, I see computational topology being applied to problems involving sensor networks, robotics, data analysis, signal processing and various other areas. The topics I mention are interesting ...
15
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4answers
503 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
246 views

Benefits of knowing theory [closed]

I've got an issue: from time to time I have to teach some math to people who either avoided it, or got through by only knowing a few working algorithms. The only thing that unites all those people: ...
2
votes
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 ...
8
votes
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 ...
-2
votes
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
835 views

How can I choose a free calculus textbook?

As I have been recently informed, it is a good idea to consider free calculus textbooks for college and university courses. However, this feels risky to me, because: I don't know anyone who is using ...
-1
votes
4answers
259 views

Good textbooks for a college Basic Geometry course?

I will be teaching geometry for the first time ever this summer. I teach at a community college, and we only offer this course in the summer. (Mostly high school students take it, but it is a college ...
30
votes
12answers
6k views

Should college mathematics always be taught in such a way that real world applications are always included?

I am teaching Linear Algebra this semester with the textbook Introduction to Linear Algebra by Serge Lang and most (perhaps all?) my students are not majoring in mathematics. As I was carefully ...
14
votes
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:...
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
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 ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

Should we “program” calculus students, like the physicists seem to want us to?

If it is true that we first learn formalism...how to do things that we don't understand, should we regard teaching students mathematics as programming dumb machines with formal rules (to the greatest ...
19
votes
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
votes
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 ...
9
votes
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{...
8
votes
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, ...
1
vote
1answer
140 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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
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 ...
8
votes
0answers
277 views

The importance of note taking in mathematics

I'm asking this question right now due to the fact that a lower back problem has made it very difficult for me to do much but lie down for large sections of the day when it flares up, and the fact ...
85
votes
16answers
15k views

Unique candidate that fails

In the comments to David Speyer's answer here, he points out that "the distinction between 'if there is a formula, it is this one' and 'this formula works' is subtle." Does anyone have any simple, ...
11
votes
4answers
408 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 ...