All Questions

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
23
votes
8answers
2k views

“We already passed that course!” How to overcome this?

I've heard the phrase "we passed that course already!" too many times when asking for e.g. the derivative of a simple rational function or a simple integral, getting blank stares, and digging deeper. ...
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 ...
23
votes
7answers
4k views

Repeated addition: standard notation?

My daughter showed me the picture below, which came from 9GAG. It shows a question on an exam asking the student to "use the repeated addition strategy to solve: 5 x 3." The student answered "5+5+5" ...
23
votes
8answers
1k views

What are the historical reasons for the hostility against standardized testing in the US?

NB. Some answers appear to be for a question I did not ask, namely, "Why is standardized testing bad?" Indeed, these answers tend to underscore the premise of my actual question, which can ...
23
votes
12answers
18k views

How does one explain that transformations 'inside' a function operate in the opposite direction than intuition suggests?

Consider a real function $f(x)$ and imagine its graph in the plane. Then the graph of $f(x+2)$ is simply the graph of $f$ shifted to the left 2 units while the graph of $f(x-2)$ is that of $f$ shifted ...
23
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there a simple explanation for calculus classes of why partial fractions work?

I'd be happy even with an explanation in the simplest case: an explanation of why expressions of the form $\frac{ax + b}{(x - c)(x - d)}$ with $c \neq d$ can always be rewritten in the form $\frac{A}{...
23
votes
6answers
734 views

Too much motivation?

This is something that I felt like was difficult for me in some classes, especially lower division differential equations and linear algebra classes. I know professors want to motivate certain topics ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Non-answerable questions on exam: What to do?

What is a good strategy when you realize (e.g. while grading the exam) that a question on an exam was incomplete/wrong? More concretely: If it is decided that additional points should be given: How ...
23
votes
6answers
711 views

How can you explain to students that they should not use the same variable in an integrand and in the limits of integration simultaneously?

When teaching Calculus, one thing that many teachers emphasize is that the variable of integration is a `dummy variable' that is unimportant. Around the same time, we introduce integrals with ...
23
votes
5answers
688 views

Do all high school students need the same 3-year sequence of math courses?

I continue to be troubled by the amount of symbolic manipulation in a typical Algebra 2 course. Once a student has completed Algebra 1 and Geometry, shouldn't there be another option for them if a ...
23
votes
3answers
9k views

Why aren't logarithms introduced earlier?

I've always been puzzled by the unequal treatments of square roots and logarithms in school mathematics. In the United States, most students know what a square root is before they enter high school (...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

How should one tutor a student in undergraduate real analysis?

I am an undergraduate. Other undergraduates sometimes ask me to tutor them in an introductory real analysis course that covers the equivalent of the first half-dozen chapters of Rudin's Principles of ...
23
votes
1answer
533 views

Tutoring elementary student who reverses left and right

I am a volunteer math tutor. My student is in fifth grade. He was evaluated in August and found to be at the first grade level in math. (His reading is very close to grade level.) He has epilepsy, ...
23
votes
5answers
512 views

Any support for mathematical “learning types?”

Back when I was an undergrad calculus TA, I participated in a general TA training class. We were taught to be mindful of different "learning types," such as visual learners, audio learners, and ...
23
votes
1answer
481 views

Taxonomy of bad proofs

I am interested in finding examples of poorly written proofs that exemplify the types of mistakes made by undergraduate students in their first year or two of writing proofs. I am interested both in ...
22
votes
15answers
6k views

Explaining why (or whether) zero and one are prime, composite or neither to younger children

There are lots of discussions out there about whether $1$ is a prime number (such as this one) and even about zero (such as this question, though note zero does generate a prime ideal in $\mathbb{Z}$ ...
22
votes
11answers
2k views

What is a good motivation/showcase for a student for the study of eigenvalues?

Courses about linear algebra make great demands on looking for eigenvalues and transforming matrices to diagonal matrices (or, at least, to Jordan normal form). This is somehow a technical, recipe-...
22
votes
16answers
2k views

Examples of Mathematical Slang

Unless you have taught highschool algebra in Iran, you could not make sense of the phrase: Elephant and Teacup Identity! This is what teachers use to refer to the following identities: $ (a+b)(a^2-...
22
votes
13answers
4k views

What is a free and simple 3D plot software for students?

I need any plot software on Linux or Windows that my students should use it for plotting 3D functions. I want introduce any software that be free and useful for bachelor students.
22
votes
15answers
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
16answers
2k views

How to motivate equivalence classes

Equivalence classs are very useful in mathematics, but many of the applications require further background, like quotient spaces in topology or quotient groups in algebra. One good example is residue ...
22
votes
10answers
2k views

Redundant zeros

How to convince a middle school student that $0.50=0.5=0.500=\cdots$? I used the fact that $0.50=\frac{5}{10}+\frac{0}{100}=\frac{5}{10}=0.5$ but that far from intuitive. Then I tried to explain ...
22
votes
10answers
3k views

Is 'estimating' still considered a valuable skill?

I was with a 2nd year high school class, preparing for our (US) state's standardized test. I asked the class how they would solve this, and they flipped through the sheets to find $$V=\frac{1}{3}\pi ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

How do I nicely tell my coworkers that they are NOT mathematicians?

I teach for a company along with a large group of teachers, almost all of which are people who have graduated with the standard Bachelor level education in Education and Science/Mathematics. I am ...
22
votes
8answers
730 views

Is it good to have solutions of homework published?

At a course at the university, the students have to do homeworks every week which will be graded and discussed in exercise groups. Is it a good idea to put "official" solutions of the homework on ...
22
votes
9answers
3k views

“A computer program IS a proof”: Introducing rigor via programming

This provocative essay Igor Rivin. "Some Thoughts on the Teaching of Mathematics—Ten Years Later." Notices of the AMS, Jun/Jul 2014. (PDF download link). suggests that a discussion of Igor'...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the proper verb for “doing” an integral?

It's time to write exams, and when writing in committee we often discover differences in usage between various instructors. Here's an example I noticed today. What is the proper verb to use in a ...
22
votes
5answers
1k views

Hand out lecture notes or not?

It lectured a stochastics course for pre-service teachers last semester and had a teXed manuscript for myself which grew as the course was running. After some debate with the students, I made a ...
22
votes
13answers
1k views

Historical tidbits to liven up calculus classes

What are some examples of math history that can be mentioned in calculus classes, either to liven things up or to provide additional perspective / insight on the material being learned? For example, ...
22
votes
9answers
2k views

Any tips in explaining the central limit theorem in statistics?

Many of my students don't have a mathematical background, and are not comfortable with concepts such as limits, random variables and distributions. Is there any intuitive way of explaining why the ...
22
votes
5answers
1k views

Students using ambiguous notation

I've noticed that many of my calculus students (all college students) will write, e.g., $1/3x$ to mean $(1/3)x$. This is an inherently ambiguous notation which I'd like them to avoid. Is simply ...
22
votes
8answers
2k views

Should we teach trigonometric substitution?

This is the question that was not asked here. Also related is this question, but both presuppose that it will be taught and ask about how best to do it. My question here is, suppose we are designing ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

How do you coach students who often make small errors?

Some students are prone to making small calculation errors. Not errors in understanding, but errors like adding or multiplying integers incorrectly, or dropping a negative sign. Unsystematic errors in ...
22
votes
3answers
892 views

What can be said about Lie groups in a first abstract algebra course?

Lie groups are among the most important examples of groups in mathematics and physics, but they are rarely discussed in introductory undergraduate abstract algebra courses, which tend to focus on ...
22
votes
4answers
558 views

Keeping quicker students engaged and interested throughout a course

In a college math course one is bound to find a fairly broad range of students in terms of their quickness in understanding the material. This is due to many reasons, including differing mathematical ...
22
votes
6answers
1k views

Practical experience with teaching differentials in freshman calc?

There is a well known essay by Dray and Manogue which argues that differentials should be brought back into freshman calculus, and that we shouldn't worry too much about choosing a specific way of ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Is this just a mistake or a more serious misconception?

One of my main research areas is algebraic thinking at different levels. Yet, from time to time, I observe something that I cannot relate to anything else that I know. This is the story of one of ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Teaching and “The Two Cultures”

This is a rather broad (and perhaps too philosophical) question about undergraduate and graduate mathematics education. Gowers, in his article "the two cultures of mathematics", observes differences ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Lesson plan to self-teach real analysis to student with comp-sci background

For my background, I'm a software engineer currently studying for his master's degree in information security. But when that's all done, I plan on going back to mathematics to keep me busy. But with ...
22
votes
5answers
634 views

Natural, rich, calculus questions

We have the good fortune of having "lab sections" here at my college. I'm interested in conducting some activities in the spirit of this talk. However, even in my stash of inquiry-based learning ...
22
votes
3answers
494 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
575 views

Breaking students from the habit of relying on examples

One of the most frustrating things about my experiences teaching math (at the university level, if that matters) is that students seem very reluctant to actually learn the material. Instead, they seem ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Knuth's suggestion on teaching calculus a good idea?

Note: I myself am not a math educator, though I plan to be one someday. In this letter, Donald Knuth suggests an alternate way of teaching calculus, based on big-O (introduced via a related big-A ...
22
votes
3answers
382 views

Mathematic reasoning in nonEnglish/non Western languages

I am teaching in an Eastern Asian environment (precisely, teaching Mathematics using English in Korea, with Asian students) and I figured out that my reasoning is a lot based on my language ...
22
votes
4answers
665 views

“Calculators are so twentieth century.”

Even though I studied maths, I became familiar with programming in my junior year at university. I'm indebted to the professor who encouraged me in that pursuit, as it provided me with an avenue not ...
21
votes
10answers
5k views

Pi or Tau? How should the circle constant be taught?

Tau ($\tau = 2 \pi$) has more merits in its application, but pi is the established standard in industry and education. Is the trade-off of teach-ability of circle concepts worth the subsequent ...
21
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
21
votes
11answers
8k views

What interesting properties of the Fibonacci sequence can I share when introducing sequences?

The Fibonacci numbers are one of the first sequences given as examples of sequences in many calculus textbooks as they have a definition that does not obviously have a closed form and they have many ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

What is a good reason to change calculus texts?

Our college is switching to an Early Transcendentals calculus text, and this seems like a good time to consider which text we are using in general. Larson, Stewart, Thomas, Briggs/Cochran, etc are all ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

Good examples of functions defined as definite integrals of elementary functions?

I am writing some Calculus content, and I would like a "big list" of useful functions which are defined by definite integrals, but are not elementary functions. Two examples of such functions are $$ ...

15 30 50 per page
1
3 4
5
6 7
61