Office HoursMon, Wed 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Thurs 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
in Brighton 125
A Note to Students
Students of the mathematical sciences can easily fall into the trap of learning just enough to get the grade. For many students this means memorizing formulas, processes, and techniques to solve the homework and, hopefully, the test questions. This works fine for about a third of the semester, but by the end of the semester there is so much material that it is almost impossible to memorize all of it.
On the other hand, if you study math not by memorizing formulas and processes, but instead by always asking yourself why this formula or why is this the next step in the process, then you will find that you gain a deep enough understanding that you don't need to memorize nearly as much material. Furthermore, even what you do need to memorize will be easier to memorize because you will have worked with the details of the process.
At first, this way of studying math will seem like torture. Don't give up! With time and experience, this method of studying becomes enjoyable and exciting. It also gives you such an intimate understanding of the material that, when it comes time to apply the math you're learning, it will be much easier.
So, here are my tips for studying mathematics:
- During class, try to predict the next step in any derivation or process.
- A few hours after class, go through your notes in the following manner:
- If we derived a formula in class, try to redo the derivation yourself. This does not mean just recopy the derivation, but instead, at each step ask yourself why are we doing this step. After you have done this, try to redo the derivation without your notes.
- If we described a process or did an example, ask yourself why we did each step. Then close your notes and try to reproduce the process or solve the example.
- In many math classes, we will describe more than one way to solve a problem. Try to understand ALL the techniques. This is because, if we give you more than one technique, then there are probably problems that are made much easier (and sometimes possible) by selecting the appropriate technique.
- Find someone to work with and take turns explaining ideas to each other. If your partner is explaining something to you and you don't understand something, ask! If your partner does understand it, they can explain it to you, if not then the two of you can either come to an understanding of it together or, if you're both stuck, ask your teacher to explain it to you.
- Finally, while attempting to work through the processes and derivations on your own and with a partner is key, don't get discouraged if you still get stuck. Math is hard, and as such it is hard work to learn math and you will not always succeed at first. So don't be afraid to use other resources when, and only when, you have become stuck on something for a significant amount of time. Those other resources include wikipedia, your teacher, and the tutor lab.
Other Classes I have Taught
- Introduction to Abstract Mathematics (Intro to Proofs)
- Calculus II
- Calculus I
- Applied Linear Algebra
- Combined Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
- Business Calculus
- College Algebra Recitation
- Pre-Collegiate Physics
- Math for Liberal Arts Recitation
- Physics Lab