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Math 13 Study Suggestions:
Many incoming freshman have not developed good study habits, and find the
transition to college work to be quite difficult. You may find some
aspects of this course to be frustrating to you; this is natural, but you
should try not to let that block you from succeeding at the course. Try
to remember that part of what you are learning is how to learn
effectively; find out what works for you and what doesn't.
Here are some hints that you should consider:
- Come to my office hours. If you are having trouble doing the
homework problems, please come see me during my office hours or ask questions in class
(everyone will be thankful that you did).
- If you have trouble with a homework problem, do more problems like it
from the book. There are usually others nearby that are similar. If not,
there are lots of calculus books in the library and in the lounge in the
Math Department; these will have problems similar to the ones we do, so you
can use these as additional practice.
- Make sure you continue to work on a problem until you get it
right and understand why it's right. It does not do you much good
to work through many problems but get them all wrong. It is better to
get one right in the end than to do ten incorrectly.
- Don't get behind in the homework. You have many demands on your time,
and you will not be able to catch up once you start to fall behind.
- Don't put off the homework until the last minute. Some of the
problems may require considerable thinking, and you will need to come back
to them several times. This is to be expected, and does not mean
you are not understanding the material. It is simply part of the process
of doing hard problems.
- Don't turn in work that you know is wrong but pretend that you think it
is right. It is far better not to finish a problem than to continue on and
produce a wrong answer, or make some other error to compensate so as to get
a reasonable-looking answer; that just makes you look like you
really don't know what you are doing. No answer at all is better
than an answer you know to be wrong. You should say something like: "I
know that something has gone wrong at this point, but I can't figure out
what." You might also say why you think something is not right, and what
you would have done if you could have continued on. There is no shame in
admitting you don't know how to do something.
- Review your notes between classes. This is a critical part of the
learning process, and should not be overlooked. This will help you
organize the material yourself for yourself, and to locate areas
where you may have questions.
- Come to class prepared. Do the homework before the next class,
if you can, and be prepared with questions if not. Look over your
notes briefly in the few minutes before class starts, so that you
remember where we left off and what we were trying to accomplish.
When determining how much time you should spend on your course work,
consider the following analogy: if you were working a full-time job, you
would be putting in 40 hours a week (at least). Think of your class work
here as your job. Since you are probably taking three courses, that means
you should spend about 13 hours a week on each course. Of that, 3 will be
in class, so you should expect to put in about 10 hours of work outside of
class each week. I expect the weekly homework to take you about 6 hourts a
week, so the remainder should be spent reviewing your notes, coming to
office hours with questions, and trying to internalize the material from
class. On the course evaluation at the end of the term you will be asked
to estimate how much time you spent per week on the course. Many students
end up saying 2 to 4 hours, which is not enough; however, if you find you
are spending more than 12 hours a week, then something is probably wrong,
and you should come see me.
Finally, I want to remind you that (although it may not always seem like
it), I do want you to succeed at this course, and I will do whatever
I can to make that happen for you. Your role in that is to do
whatever you can to make that happen, and to come to me for
help when it's not working. It is far better to admit that there is
a problem than to brazen it out and hope it gets better; it usually
doesn't on its own.
Good luck with the term!
Up: Math 13 Home Page
Created: Sep 1 1997 ---
Last modified: Sep 7, 1997 10:39:00 AM