Questions tagged [undergraduate-education]

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

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26
votes
5answers
639 views

Alternatives to University Lectures: Non-lecture Mathematics Classes

I am looking for resources for designing undergraduate mathematics classes that are not lecture-based. (Bonus points if the design is for an introduction to proof course). For example, Robert ...
6
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4answers
498 views

Courses equivalent to College Algebra in other countries?

In USA, there is a course called College Algebra and a course description may look like the following: This course provides students an opportunity to gain algebraic knowledge needed in ...
2
votes
4answers
328 views

Is it necessary to teach the definition of a limit for engineering majors? [closed]

I have always wondered whether it is necessary or not. For me, it seems that it is enough to teach them the intuitive idea, that is, limit is just an approximation of a certain process. what do you ...
4
votes
0answers
69 views

Objectives for group work in undergraduate pure maths

Whether we are preparing undergraduates for research in industry or academia effective collaboration is an important higher skill. I think there are two aspects to this in mathematics - thinking ...
3
votes
2answers
182 views

How to make an introductory course on Statistics interesting

I am going to teach this probability and statistics course in a couple of weeks. The probability part can be made very interesting, in my opinion, easily. But I am a little worried that I might make ...
2
votes
1answer
130 views

An intuitive (non rigorous) text book on graph theory which is student friendly with vivid illustrations

Background Hello, I am an undergraduate in CS. I would like to study Graph Theory on my own (self-study) for a competitive examination (named GATE). It is an examination for undergraduates and as such,...
18
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4answers
2k 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 ...
-1
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2answers
159 views

What research has been done on the effects of requiring students to learn to count in an alternative number base such a binary or base eight? [closed]

What research has been done on the effects of requiring students to learn to count and do some easy arithmetic in an alternative number base, for example binary, base four, base six, base eight, base ...
17
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4answers
3k views

How does the workload of a high-school mathematics teacher compare to a university-level instructor?

This question could be very broad, and so I'd like to make it more specific. In the United States, mathematics educators generally work in secondary education or college education (elementary school ...
24
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5answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
626 views

About the effectiveness of self-studying maths (compared with other subjects)

An important feature of mathematics is that it is relatively easy (compare to many other subjects) to know whether or not one's understanding is correct. There are plenty of ways to check: one can ...
5
votes
1answer
110 views

Students reliant on answers provided, but not their own reasoning?

Evidence suggests that even instructional approaches that produce conceptual gains may leave students reliant and expecting to be reliant on guidance from instructors (Redish et al., 1998). Students ...
6
votes
1answer
421 views

“Flipped classroom exercises” resources

I was reading this book: "Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies: A Self-Learning Approach" by Mohammed F. Daqaq In the preface, the author explains of his "flipped classroom ...
11
votes
3answers
353 views

In math courses with writing requirements, how should large papers be graded fairly?

In a course I am teaching this semester, I am required to have my students write a large (6-12 page or so) paper worth 40% of their grade. Many other colleges have courses with similar requirements, e....
7
votes
1answer
883 views

How to be a good math teacher at a liberal art college?

I am thinking of taking up a position at a liberal art college. I have taught mathematics at large public universities but I have no idea what is it like to work at a liberal art colleges. So what are ...
15
votes
2answers
193 views

Tension between the most intuitive definition vs. the most common definition of a concept

Many definitions in mathematics are "fully crystalized". Sometimes the form of these definitions might be somewhat baffling to the uninitiated. For example, the definition of a relation ...
2
votes
3answers
231 views

History of discrete math curriculum

I will be teaching discrete mathematics. I’m wondering if anyone can tell me a couple topics that were classically in this class (in any undergraduate version) that were probably discarded over time, ...
23
votes
5answers
955 views

A Series of Unfortunate Examples!

All of us know, when teaching, the "right" choice of examples is important. Though, making the "right" choice is one of those things that are easier said than done. Here is the ...
87
votes
18answers
16k 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, ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the best practices for giving online tests?

Many of us our coming off our first semester of required-online classes; and at some of our institutions we are preparing for what is most likely a required-online semester in the fall. (That is: The ...
5
votes
3answers
234 views

I need strategies for tutoring a bright, motivated student currently taking college algebra who just doesn't seem to retain the things I teach

I have a college student who I've been tutoring over the past two semesters. He's a hard worker and quite bright. Unfortunately, I do not feel like I am having much success in helping him learn ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

Galois Theory: necessary?

I noticed the discussion of whether the teaching of Galois Theory is necessary on MathOverflow. Here at LSE, everything we teach in mathematics should have some application to the social side of life. ...
7
votes
3answers
213 views

Rings in parallel with groups in abstract algebra

In a previous question, I asked about the pros and cons of teaching rings before groups in abstract algebra. Recently, it has come to my attention that there is a third approach - a unified approach - ...
2
votes
1answer
147 views

Improving exposition of a proof about polynomials over infinite fields

This question concerns teaching a proof of the theorem that if a polynomial $f \in k[x]$ over an infinite field $k$ is the zero function (i.e. $f(a) = 0$ for all $a \in k$) then it is also the zero ...
8
votes
5answers
666 views

Question formats for online tests, to deter cheating

I'm teaching calculus 1 online this term and anticipate being plagued by the perennial problem of cheaters. I have seen suggestions for how to arrange the testing time to accommodate for traditional ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

Can students tell the difference between the “definition if” and the “theorem if”?

The word "if" is used in two meanings in mathematics: Definition. A topological space is compact if every open cover has a finite subcover. Theorem. A topological space is compact if it is ...
0
votes
4answers
324 views

Defining mathematics to primary/elementary school teachers

I'm looking for a simple way to define mathematics to primary/elementary school teachers and explain some of the confusion children have. I'm hoping some Algebraist could help me properly state the ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

Pros/Cons of using a single story in multiple examples to demonstrate different points

Judea Pearl, in his book "Probabilistic reasoning in intelligent systems" uses a handful of stories over and over again, each time to demonstrate a different point. (His "Alarm" ...
10
votes
2answers
319 views

Weekly quizzes as an alternative for midterms? What is this called?

I have seen (by some of my former instructors) the following strategy applied as an alternative to traditional "midterms and final" assessment in a math course: Students take a quiz weekly. ...
8
votes
4answers
278 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 ...
18
votes
11answers
5k views

Why do we still teach the determinant formula for cross product? And is it as bad as I think it is?

The cross product is an important vector operation in in any serious multivariable calculus course. In most textbooks that I'm aware of, right after the definition, we always introduce the ...
2
votes
1answer
169 views

What should I say about elementary number theory?

I need to give an option talk (a 10 min talk given to students who are selecting their options for sophomore mathematics) about an elementary number theory module. The students will have completed a ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

How to teach abstract algebra for the first time?

I am a Ph.D student in computer science. I am TAing one course this semester, which requires the basics of abstract algebra like rings, fields, ideals, and basic theorems about them. I have done two ...
16
votes
8answers
978 views

Examples of basic non-commutative rings

I am teaching an intro to ring theory, and after grading the first quiz, I realize most of my students are under the assumption that rings must be commutative. I have given them the example of ...
10
votes
4answers
906 views

How to teach calculus (book recommendation)

I'm going to teach calculus for the first time to undergraduate students. I would like to know if there is some book about how to teach the concepts of calculus (e.g. limits, derivatives, etc.).
8
votes
3answers
253 views

Seeking references for why it is good that students understand why mathematical rules work

I am currently advising a student at his final project (it is a graduation course for people who will become math teachers). We've chosen to pick some basic mathematical rules which are (or at least ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Finding the Balance in a Math Question (Teaching)

As we try to work and teach in the midst of this pandemic, some problems arise when making online math exams. My question is simple: What could be an interesting basic differentiation question such ...
6
votes
0answers
304 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
443 views

Unique steps leading to a non-unique answer

When asked to show a math problem has a unique solution, students sometimes think that if an algorithm leading to a solution has unambiguous instructions at each step (no need to make choices at any ...
7
votes
4answers
847 views

Complex analysis (Applied versus pure)

I am studying Electrical Engineering and I want to specialize in signal processing. However, I have to study complex analysis first (I am an undergraduate, so I lack some terminology). In your opinion:...
6
votes
1answer
252 views

Complex analysis books/resources where solutions are difficult to find

I am teaching complex analysis for undergraduates using the textbook Complex Variables and Applications, Brown and Churchill. I am looking for resources that I can use to find good problems for ...
20
votes
6answers
984 views

Should we stop teaching “interchange $x$ and $y$” when finding the inverse function?

In one textbook I use for College Algebra, the author teaches that one should interchange $x$ and $y$ when looking for inverse functions. For example, the inverse function of $$y=2x+2$$ is $$y=0.5x-1.$...
21
votes
3answers
804 views

Tutoring a recalcitrant/awkward/exasperating student---special needs?

As part of my duties at a GTA, I spend several hours per week in our department's drop-in tutoring center. The center is open to all students enrolled in 100- and 200-level math courses, with the ...
5
votes
2answers
276 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 ...
35
votes
6answers
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
0answers
74 views

creating an easygoing mathematical course that covers basic concepts that are not in main focus of standard courses [closed]

I want to know which topics should be covered if one wants to create an easygoing mathematical course that covers basic concepts that are not in main focus of standard courses i.e. what those concepts ...
28
votes
7answers
2k views

Good definition for introducing real numbers?

In the first lectures about calculus/analysis, you should introduce real numbers. Let's assume students know that rational numbers are. What are the advantages or disadvantages in the different "...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Advice on teaching abstract algebra and logic to high-school students

NOTE: This question will soon be duplicated, as I didn't make clear that I was a high school sophmore in the beginning. At first I thought it didn't matter, and somewhat arrogant to mention, but in ...
20
votes
6answers
4k views

Why is the concept of injective functions difficult for my students?

I was aware that students find the definition of function too abstract and thus find it difficult. However, I thought, once you understand functions, the concept of injective and surjective functions ...
2
votes
1answer
187 views

Is the AMC 10/12 Test the Difference Maker for Top Schools? What do Colleges Look for?

The AMC 10/12 test is a test used in a math competition for high school students. I have a few students that know LaTeX who are very young and are extremely advanced for their age in high school. As a ...

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