25 votes
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A smart student that struggles in exams

There are several possible explanations. Without much more information, it is impossible to give a clear-cut answer. Perhaps your student is able to "read" your unconcisious reactions very ...
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  • 12.1k
22 votes

I'm worried that my struggles with calc 2 mean I won't be able to become a professor later

A lot of students seem to make it through high school and well into college with the idea that school is supposed to be easy, and that having to work hard, or being confused at times, or struggling ...
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22 votes
Accepted

How do you coach students who often make small errors?

Ask the student to "talk through" their calculations Having a student verbalize their calculation may force them to pay more attention (or a different kind of attention) to their work that ...
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  • 4,474
18 votes

What should I do if I have a student 'hiding' their working out?

It has been nearly a year now since I've made this question, and I think I've discovered a 'magical cure'. This one simple trick has worked for all of my classes with great success (I am feeling more ...
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  • 1,076
15 votes

What to do when all the other teachers fail?

Here is an example from an algebra class I teach. We cover the quadratic formula, completing the square, the multiple ways to find the vertex, and try to connect it all together with the effects on ...
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  • 19.1k
14 votes

How do you coach students who often make small errors?

I used to have this problem. What helps me more than anything is: Solve it two different ways if you can and make sure they agree If you are finding a general formula, test it on some examples If ...
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  • 241
12 votes
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What to do when all the other teachers fail?

If you want to rely on things convered in other course, one thing I think you should try to do is to get information from the teachers of these other courses what they have discussed; if possible, in ...
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  • 7,592
12 votes
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Is There Such Thing as Learning Disability in Math?

The inabilities described in the question don't strike me as either particularly unusual nor as clear signs of a neurological learning disability. They strike me as more likely the passivity and ...
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  • 5,113
12 votes

Teaching a student who refuses to learn

If you are a private tutor, hired by an undergrad or adult student, or hired by the parents of a student in 6-12 (middle school/high-school), then I'd suggest that when you meet with a "client" as a ...
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  • 2,028
12 votes

Teaching a student who refuses to learn

This is not an answer, but an assertion that what you are experiencing is not something new. Here are some quotes from a 1993 article of a Russian (actually, native Estonian) math prof, who moved to ...
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  • 1,253
10 votes
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How to teach a weak student?

Weaker students need drill and rote. Make flashcards and drill the heck out of him. That will help him more than any kind of detailed explanations or motivation talks. Just treat it like a sports ...
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  • 274
9 votes
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How to visually demonstrate basic algebra

I don't know how feasible this is or what kind of resources you have, but try finding a balance scale, some standard weights, and a collection of identical objects. You can set up the scale to ...
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  • 6,348
9 votes

Addressing fundamental math errors

It sounds like he is not prepared for a course in Calculus. I would encourage him to go back and retake College Algebra which reinforces factoring and canceling out terms. Sadly, it is going to be ...
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  • 1,109
9 votes

Teaching a student who refuses to learn

This is how most students perceive math tests. Whether it's fair or not, this is the perception and it is the normal response to a broken math education system. Imagine you are a teenager and your ...
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9 votes

Advice on how to tutor a twelve year old that starts to cry?

Empty praise is no good Do not give praise when it is not deserved. It is not healthy and does not lead to stronger character or anything else good. Tasks with no wrong answer Maybe, and I am guessing ...
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  • 4,681
9 votes

Advice on how to tutor a twelve year old that starts to cry?

Intense emotions surrounding math are not uncommon. Importantly, they tend to "feed back" on themselves - the memory of a bad experience with math makes doing math more stressful later, ...
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8 votes

I'm worried that my struggles with calc 2 mean I won't be able to become a professor later

Henry is completely right that what your struggle is normal. I want to add that your reaction to it extremely positive. Keep doing what you are doing! Knowledge cannot be directly transmitted from ...
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8 votes

Teaching undergraduates who expect a high-school-like learning environment

I find class voting/clickers a good way to get students used to thinking about conceptual stuff. In fact, I often frame my lectures around three progressively more challenging conceptual questions. ...
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  • 2,936
8 votes

Is There Such Thing as Learning Disability in Math?

I do not specialize in learning disabilities, but it's possible that your student has dyscalculia. From Wikipedia: Dyscalculia is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as ...
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  • 10.2k
8 votes

Teaching a student who refuses to learn

Well, there is a recent and excellent book about this question: Why Students Resist Learning: A Practical Model for Understanding and Helping Students by Anton O. Tolman, Janine Kremling and Anton O. ...
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8 votes

A smart student that struggles in exams

I had a similar student, these 2 things helped. Take mock tests with different criteria, like a test where questions are easy but paper is too lengthy to complete in time or sometimes very few ...
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8 votes

A smart student that struggles in exams

I was this student throughout school and University. Professors would comment that I was smart, that I knew the material, but I'd still do poorly on exams. I made careless mistakes: I would sometimes ...
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8 votes

How to train facility with numbers?

If he won't practice on his own, then I suggest the following. At the beginning of each tutoring session, give him a blank 10 by 10 times table and have him fill it in. He can then refer to it while ...
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  • 6,899
7 votes
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At what point is it a disservice to pass someone on to the next math class?

Social promotion is an interesting topic, and I know my personal views are unpopular in my school. So they probably will be here too, but I'll go ahead. Due to developmental issues with children I ...
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  • 631
7 votes

How to teach a weak student?

As you mentioned: he is not interested in the subject and lacks motivation As a simple tutor you don't have the authority to deal with such a situation, so the best thing to do is to stop working ...
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  • 832
7 votes

Why teaching undergraduate-level mathematics is so complicated?

There are many reasons, but the classic explanation is that professors (especially at research universities) are picked (and compensated) for research ability versus teaching efficiency. (In general.....
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  • 79
7 votes
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Struggling with Math Skills and When to Quit

To add to Daniel Collins' thoughtful and considered advice, another helpful book could be Lara Alcock's How to Study as a Mathematics Major. It offers tips on calculation procedures, transitioning to ...
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  • 4,337
7 votes

A smart student that struggles in exams

When he solves some exercises beside me he does very well, so I was thinking why he failed the exam, and I couldn't find a reason. Also when I give him some homework he do some parts wrong, but when I ...
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7 votes

How can I improve my Retake Policy?

As a college math professor, I have a retake policy. I've been trying to encourage other professors to develop retake policies, and it seems to be becoming more common with resources emerging like The ...
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  • 2,119

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