Age-old questions about freshman math students

October 2, 2007, 9:15 am

7176859_a1d302e4f3_m.jpgMidterms are coming up in a couple of weeks, and while most of the students in my precalculus class are doing reasonably well, some aren’t. Here are some questions I’ve struggled with every time I teach a freshman class, and maybe some of you out there have suggestions. If so, leave them in the comments.

  1. How do you impress upon students (freshmen) the importance of coming to office hours? I don’t think I’ve had more than six distinct students visit office hours for help all semester long, and I’d consider this an active semester in terms of office hours. The rest go to the Math Study Center, study tables for football or fraternities, etc. but it does no evident good for a lot of them. I think it would do them good to come see me; but how to convince them of this?
  2. How do you convince a student that their purpose for being here, their job, is to be a student? Some of the students don’t come to office hours because they haven’t touched the exercises all semester long, and that’s because they are involved in several different campus activities which are promoted in the name of “getting involved”. The cost to their time budget is unsustainable. How to get them to prioritize time properly?
  3. How do you get students to transition from the typical high-school-math mode of “get the answer in the shortest possible time frame” to the college mode of “work hard over an extended period to really understand what you are doing”?

[Photo by kodama.]

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