Here's what you'll need to do to get the most value out of this course.
Asking questions isn't as easy as it sounds.
- Sometimes it's hard figuring out what to ask.
- However, even if you don't have a precise question, I can still help you if I know a little bit about where you're coming from.
- If you're having trouble with a problem, tell me what you've tried so far.
- If you're having trouble with the reading, tell me what you've understood so far.
- Listen to other people's questions.
- They might ask a question you didn't know you had.
Where to ask questions:
The pandemic makes working together trickier, but UH's license with Google gives us access to shared spaces using Google Meet.
- In this class, we'll use it as a shared study space, so course staff won't be present, and you can use it any time.
- To access:
If you want a shared virtual whiteboard, I recommend either Google Jamboard or AWW.
If you want to set up a time to meet up with others to study, you can post a note on Piazza.
If it gets busy, you can use math243a, math243b, and so forth, or any other name you want for the room.
Be excellent to each other.
- If necessary, click in the top right to switch accounts to your @hawaii.edu account.
- Click "Join or start a meeting" and enter math243.
- Recognize that getting better at math is hard work.
- If there's any inappropriate behavior, you can take a screenshot and report it to an instructor if you'd like.
Don't spend all of your time working together.
- Otherwise, you might accidentally become dependent on others and stop learning.
- Make sure to do some problems on your own to keep yourself honest about what you can do and what you need to work more on.
Read the textbook
- Use the reading guides so you know what to focus on.
- Work on the examples.
- The reading guides will tell you whether you should try the example before or after reading the solution.
- Copy down the example and set the book aside. Spend five minutes trying to solve it. If you need to look something up in the book to solve it, go for it, but don't look at the solution.
- After the five minutes are up, read the solution for that example. Read the solution carefully, because the next step is...
- Set the book aside and solve the example problem again.
- It won't always be easy; expect to ask questions or work together as you go through the material.
- Most students do better with reading, but some do better with videos.
- If that's you, you can watch Michael Hutchings's videos for Berkeley's version of this course.
- There are also many other good video series out there. Feel free to ask on Piazza for recommendations.
- Make sure to still work on the example problems in the textbook.
Work on WebAssign
WebAssign is a good way to see where your weak spots are because it gives you instant feedback.
- WebAssign gives different students different numbers in the problems. If you have a question that other students might have, ask it in class, office hours, on Piazza, or in the Google Meet study room. If your question depends on the specific numbers you were given, use WebAssign's "Ask Your Teacher" feature.
- You'll get the most value out of the class if you do the WebAssign on time, but to give you the flexibility to set your own priorities, I've set it to automatically grant extensions. The system will grant extensions one day at a time, and the maximum the system allows is two weeks.
- Unfortunately, WebAssign isn't free, but sometimes it comes with your textbook or with things like Cengage Unlimited. Cengage has a page about purchase options.
- In addition to paying for it, you'll need the code hawaii 6260 6121 to register for this course.
Work on textbook problems
Based on the weak spots you've identified while working on WebAssign, do additional textbook problems in those areas.
- Find similar problems in the book.
- If the problems come in a set, pick harder ones when you're working with a group, and easier ones when you're working alone.
- Expect to run into trouble and ask questions; if you're not asking questions, try harder problems!
Post solutions on Piazza
For each textbook section, you should write up a solution to one exercise in that section.
- You should post it on Piazza the night before class.
- I'll give you feedback the morning before class.
- You'll get feedback not only on correctness but also on writing style and clear communication, in the same way that a history teacher would give you feedback not only on facts, spelling, and grammar, but also on how well you communicate your ideas.
- During class (or earlier if you'd like) you'll revise your solution, potentially with several rounds of feedback.
- If you're working together in a group, you can help revise your groupmates' solutions.
- Once your solution is clear enough that others can use it to study from, I'll endorse it.
How to pick a problem:
- Check the calendar for what textbook section we're doing tomorrow.
- There are three class meetings each week, but most weeks we'll only do two sections, so you'll have some flexibility for which day you post.
- Pick a problem that's not too easy and not too hard for you.
- If you pick a problem that's too easy, my feedback will be "great work," but you won't learn a lot from that. You can still do it occasionally if you want to focus on working on your writing style.
- If you pick a problem that's too hard, you might have trouble writing a solution that's clear enough that other people can use it to study from. You can still do it occasionally if you want a challenge.
- If you're working together in a group, pick different types of problems for each person.
- Ideally, pick a problem that hasn't been done by someone else on Piazza already.
- For example, if you're thinking of working on problem 1 in section 10.3, search for 10.3.1 on Piazza and see if anything comes up. If it does, maybe do problem 2 or 3 instead.
How to post a problem (before you've written a solution):
- In the bar on top, click the folder corresponding to the textbook section you're working on (for example 10.3).
- Click "New Post".
- Make sure the Post Type is "Question".
- Make sure the right folder is selected (10.3 in this example).
- In the Summary, write the problem number, in the format #.#.# (10.3.1 in this example).
- In the Details, type the problem statement.
- Click the Post button.
How to write a solution:
- Type your answer in the "the students' answer" box.
- Write clearly, explaining what you're doing.
- See the Guide to Writing Solutions from Art of Problem Solving for tips on how to write well.
- The example solutions in the textbook are a good model to follow.
- For example, notice that they explain their steps in complete sentences, just like the writing guide recommends.
- To type a math formula, use the f(x) button.
- Use the buttons to create your formula. You'll see a preview. Once you're happy with it, click "Insert".
- Once you're done, you'll see that Piazza created some code for you, with $$ on either side of the code.
- This code is called LaTeX, and once you get comfortable with it, you can type it directly, which saves time compared to using the buttons.
- LaTeX has a steep learning curve, so have patience with yourself as you get better at typing math. However, if you get fed up with LaTeX, I'll also accept hand-written solutions.
- Use a scanning app like Genius Scan rather than just taking a picture so that it's easier to read.
- When making the choice between typing and scanning, keep in mind that you might have several rounds of edits, and editing typed work is easier than editing handwritten work. That's especially true if you're working in a group.
- You can also do a mix of typing and scanning if you'd like.
- I'll give you feedback in the "followup discussions" section.
- You can edit your solution using the edit button.
- You can also edit other people's solutions if you're working together.
- If you have questions about my feedback, you can reply in the followup discussion, or chat over Zoom.
- I'll also sometimes give tips, which are good things to do next time, but I'll still endorse your solution as study material even if you don't do them this time.
Other things to do on Piazza
- Read other people's solutions as study material.
- Ask questions about the course material: Pick the folder that best matches your question, and make a post.
- Answer questions about the course material: Help out your classmates.
- Coordinate times to study together on Google Meet.
Work on the Gradescope homework
- Each week, I'll pick around two or three more challenging textbook problems for you to turn in to our grader.
- These problems will be posted on Gradescope.
- The Gradescope instructions explain how to turn in your solutions.
- Make sure to use a scanning app rather than just taking a picture, and make sure to use the buttons Gradescope provides to rotate your pages correctly and tell it which problems are on which page.
- As always, ask questions and work together, but make sure your work is your own.
- To respect the grader's time, there won't be extensions given on the Gradescope homework, but I'll drop your lowest two scores. You can still try to email a PDF to them after the deadline, but they might say no. If something big comes up in your life, you can also email me to get an assignment excused; you'll need an official note.
- If you have any questions about the your grade on the assignments, please contact the grader. Contact me if you are unable to resolve the issue. You can find our emails in the syllabus.
Give yourself enough time
- This is a three-credit course, so in accordance with federal regulations, this course is designed for students who spend a minimum of nine hours a week working on the material, counting class time.
- You'll still get some partial value out of the course if you spend less time, but it will be hard to achieve all of your intended learning outcomes unless you've studied this material before.
- If you're having trouble despite putting in nine hours, let me know and I'll try to help; there might be different ways you can spend time on this course that would be more effective for you.