HOMEWORK INSTRUCTIONS == CALC 02 == FALL 2005 == page
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5
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How to Do Homework
INSTRUCTOR: DOUG JONES
YOUR NAME ______________________________
FALL SEMESTER 2005
[CALC. VERSION]
INTRODUCTION
"Practice makes perfect
@
1
is an old, tried-and-true saying. However, in a math class at the college or
university level, there is not much time during the class period
for you, the student, to practice
math.
The number of required topics and the essentially lecture-type atmosphere do not leave time for
practice. Thus
math must be practiced outside the classroom
. I
=
ll set aside some time each class
period to show you how to work homework problems you're "stuck" on. But in reality
this work does
not constitute "practice" for you; it is really just practice for me. And, hopefully, I don't need too much
practice.
Now, what does it mean
A
to practice math?
@
I suggest that at the college level it means to actually
work
problems. And what does it mean to work
problems? It means
B
•
to read problems carefully,
•
to decide which mathematical "tools"
2
to use,
•
to properly and systematically use those mathematical tools
3
,
•
to analyze the results critically
4
, and, in the case of
word problems,
•
to interpret those results in a written style which is understandable, even to an average,
educated person.
On a more mundane level,
A
to practice math
@
is
A
to simplify expressions,
@
A
to solve equations,
@
A
to
calculate,
@
and
A
to graph.
@
And how do we do these types of practice? It's called
homework
. This is the bottom line
B
you've got
to do homework to get good at math
. And, evidently, your chosen career requires both analytical
thinking and computational proficiency.
Thus, you do need to
A
get good at math
.
@
So let's agree that homework is necessary. Now it's going to be part of my job this semester to
convince you that "
Homework is a necessary evil
." is an incorrect statement. I must try to show you
that homework is
necessary
, but not
evil
, in fact, I hope to show you that homework can be, well, . . .
fun
.
Now, don
=
t laugh!
And really, if you do not enjoy the solving of problems, both mathematical and logical, then, I suggest,
you will not be happy in a career involving mathematical reasoning and/or scientific inquiry. But I
guess we'll see
about that later.
For now, let's get into how I want you to do your homework.
1
Actually, as a student pointed-out to me years ago . . . .
“Perfect
practice makes perfect.”
2
In this context, the word "tool" means a formula , equation or maybe even a technique (like
rationalizing a numerator).
3
Here, "use those tools" means “solve the equations,” or “correctly rationalize the numerator.”
4
For instance . . . . “Does this answer make sense?”

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