25

I'm primarily a physicist, but I also teach first-semester freshman calc once in a while. Your characterization of a cultural divide between physicists and mathematicians on this subject does not seem at all accurate to me. If anything, I think the characterizations should be reversed, at least on the average -- but it would only be an average, because ...


23

The instrument pictured was created by Barry Kurtz. He writes by email: I completed my PhD under Bob Karplus at UC Berkeley. I was his last PhD student. My dissertation dealt with teaching for proportional reasoning. I invented the idea of a "water triangle" to teach inverse proportions. These were all made by the workshop at the Lawrence Hall of ...


21

There is a middle ground: closed-book, with some notes. The disadvantage to open-book exams is that students will waste time looking for answers in the book. I know this from experience. As I personally have a very bad memory, I wanted to keep that aspect out of it. But I saw many students wasting time during exams, flipping through the book. (Have you not ...


20

Most of the research on gender and math education is focused on student gender differences. However, a few references can be found that focus on the what differences there may be based on the gender of the teacher. One thing that appears to be common among some of these studies appears to be that perception of student performance varies based on gender of ...


17

The two-column proof form has been the dominant mode of presentation for proofs in secondary geometry in the United States for most of the past century. You ask about its effectiveness; unfortunately, I think that question is ill-posed, because the goal state isn't clearly defined (effective at what?) and so there's no way to measure whatever it is you want ...


17

This is a case where you might be looking for a distinction that's pretty subtle. By definition, the y-intercept occurs at x=0. In one notation, it's literally f(0), where the x is explicitly offered. I'd be ok with a student's answer to "What is the y-intercept?" to be simply the y value, or the $(0,y_0)$ point. If a teacher prefers one, you can ask ...


16

It seems that the key term here may be the somewhat non-specific-sounding special functions. By googling for a few examples (Erf, Si, Li) I came across a Table of Special Functions and, on the Lists of integrals wikipage, there is a sub-section on Special Functions. As a related remark, one reason that functions may be presented and/or defined in terms of ...


16

The gamma function is very useful in counting problems (among others) and is seen as an extension of the factorial function into the reals. It is defined as: $$ \Gamma(z) = \int_0^\infty t^{z-1}e^{-t}dt\,. $$ (Incidentally, this is the example of how to use MathJax in the help section.)


16

Here is one article in PNAS. The final sentence quoted below is a summary: "creating small groups with high proportions of women [...] is one way to keep women engaged [...]" Dasgupta, Nilanjana, Melissa McManus Scircle, and Matthew Hunsinger. "Female peers in small work groups enhance women's motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in ...


15

Brief Remarks: It is difficult to find longitudinal studies on calculator use as specified by the OP. One of the reasons for this is that tracking students from, e.g., high school till college is quite complicated. Another reason is that studies on technology use are often fodder for theses, which are completed in too short a timeframe to provide such an ...


15

You asked for anecdotal evidence. I was a "gifted student". The school told me to teach myself 11th grade math (Trigonometry and Algebra 2) in 9th grade. I never formally learned algebra 1, but I understood it. They gave me a book for 11th grade math and I learned. I don't think it did me any harm - but I do think I understood the concepts and didn't just ...


15

I have a bit of anecdotal evidence. I was unfortunately not homeschooled, nor did I have a technical childhood; I spent my childhood painting and writing short stories. I was in gifted classes, but I was not seen as a particularly bright student. Due to bullying I looked for alternatives to the local high schools, and ended up applying to university early ...


15

Years ago, as an undergraduate student, I experienced something close to your description of a utopian mathematics undergraduate-level curriculum at Sharif University of Technology in Iran. We didn't mind winning Fields Medal. Indeed,one did: Maryam Mirzakhani. I remember, one of the courses we had was "geometric analysis", quite uncommon as an undergraduate ...


15

Not formal research, but some decades of experience teaching both undergrad and graduate level courses, and "editing" PhD theses and such: It appears that even many serious professional mathematicians do not understand the difference between a "definitional" iff and an "assertive" iff. This is entirely parallel to an assignment equality versus an assertive ...


14

I think you'll find some of what you want on Berkley mathematician H.H. Wu's homepage. More precisely, see: Pre-Algebra (pdf) and Introduction to School Algebra (pdf). Note: I mentioned the same homepage (and the two pdf textbooks) in an earlier MESE post here; I would have just re-posted this as a comment, but I believe it is the actual answer to your ...


14

This is a problem for some English language learners: The triangle on the left is also a right triangle.


14

Note (Feb 2018): There is an alleged "Chinese math problem" (see, e.g., WaPo article) going around about the second example problem below (cited to Reusser 1988, but can be found in Reusser 1986, as I've tweeted here). Interesting that it has gone viral without anyone having sourced it. This study can be easily replicated, and has been: with multiple ...


14

"Cheating Lessons" by James M. Lang argues (and has many references to back up) the claim that smaller, more frequent, lower stakes assessment both improves student learning outcomes and decreases the frequency of cheating.


13

The question you are asking has little to do with the particular subject in which the student excels and everything to do with student motivation. The students have not developed the skills needed to study and persevere through difficult classes because everything to this point has come naturally for them. They haven't needed to set time aside for a study ...


13

In A Mathematician's Lament, Paul Lockhart describes what is wrong with math education in schools. To get a good idea of how he would do things differently, you should read his book titled Measurement. The ideas in it are for slightly older students, but the approach is what you're looking for. I recommend that you try to work through Measurement yourself, ...


13

From Clark, Richard, Paul A. Kirschner, and John Sweller. "Putting students on the path to learning: The case for fully guided instruction." (2012): Even more disturbing is evidence that when learners are asked to select between a more-guided or less-guided version of the same course, less-skilled learners who choose the less-guided approach tend to ...


12

What do we understand as mental processes? All of us (Math teachers) dream of entering the brain of our students, see what's happening and adjusting some connections... However, the thing is that their brains are a kind of black box for us. So the only way we actually have to be sure they have catched some mathematical concept (or argument, or property, etc....


12

My first take is $$ \ln(x) = \int_1^x\frac1t dt. $$ Granted, some texts introduce the natural log of the inverse of $\exp$ but other texts define $\ln$ as above and the $\exp$ as the inverse. If I remember correctly, the definition of the logarithm by the integral was historically first.


12

You don't need 1-letter variable names to do algebra. Basically, as soon as you start giving story problems to children, you need to start teaching algebra techniques. You can teach them as "easier ways" to solve the problems, that help kids "keep track of things" and "avoid mistakes". Most computer programming languages (including spreadsheets with named ...


12

A question that occurs with a project like this (broader than one department, as you put it) would be: Who is qualified to make those assessments? Probably not any other department at a particular college, certainly -- the one department is, by definition, where all the experts in that subject work. To some degree this actually is done in places, in the ...


11

Apart from quite general issues about smart kids' study skills or lack thereof, my observations over many years gives me the impression that mathematics and computer science offer special hazards/advantages. I'll address mathematics, since most of my experience lies there, but I suspect similar observations apply to computer science (which I've also paid ...


11

Two good books that I liked when I read them years ago are Simon Singh: The Code Book. This is a great introductory book to cryptography. The book is not very mathematical heavy, but cryptography is very related to number theory, so I think the book works well and can function well as an inspirational book. Simon Singh: Fermat's Enigma. This is a book about ...


11

Why does it matter what the research shows? At best, a study might have found that students who were blindly fed recipes did better in the short term on examinations for calculus. But then, what is the ultimate goal of education? For students to pass tests? I really hope not. The goal of any teacher, especially a teacher in mathematics, should first and ...


11

Preference relations in economics. e.g. I prefer Big Macs to Whoppers (denoted $\mathrm{Big Mac} \succ \mathrm{Whopper}$) and that induces a lattice on the space $\{\mathrm{BigMac},\mathrm{Whopper},\mathrm{Baconator}\}$. This idea has applications in choice theory, matching, and game/auction theory. The preference-ordering framework is notably used to prove ...


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