Here is some additional information and advice that should give you a
better idea what to expect from this class, how to enjoy it and do
well, and help you decide whether or not this class is for you.
- This class will probably be large by COA standards. You and I
will need to work together creatively to make sure that this classtime
is comfortable and effective, and that outside of class people are
able to get all the help they need. I have taught this class with
more than thirty students and it worked out fine.
- Falling behind in this course is not a good idea. If you're
confused about something, it's very important that you seek help
sooner rather than later. There are many people around who can offer
help. However, we can't offer assistance if we don't know who needs
it when. You need to take responsibility to seek help if you need
it. On a related note ...
- I do not expect all of the homework assignments to be easy; I don't
expect you to be able to sit down and do them easily the first time.
Don't let yourself get frustrated -- I strongly suggest working with
others and seeking help if you need it.
- In many more traditional math classes the textbook has a ton of
examples in them. The book we'll be using doesn't. The result is
that students sometimes find the homework to be challenging,
frustrating, and occasionally even annoying. However, I'm convinced
that this style of homework -- where there's not an example just like
the problem you're trying to do -- is much better pedagogically.
You'll learn a lot more this way.
- You will actually need to read the textbook in order to do some of
the homework. I won't be able to cover everything in class, and/or
you'll just want to see a topic explained in a different way.
- I very strongly recommend getting your own copy of the textbook.
I think you'll learn more if you have your own copy to take notes in
and always have with you when you're doing problems.
- The book, and the course, emphasizes graphical and verbal
understanding in addition to being able to work with symbols and
numbers. Much of mathematics -- both theory and application -- is
graphical or geometrical in nature. The graphical problems are not
"lite" problems but are an essential part of the course. The
graphical problems are most definitely "real math." Some of you
may find graphical work difficult, as it's likely different than some
of what you've been asked to do in math classes before.
- This course covers pretty standard Calc I material.
The text book we're using is used at many other colleges and universities
in the U.S.
- This is now my fifth time teaching this class, so I have a fairly
good sense of how it will go. In particular, I can state with some
confidence that the first two and a half weeks will be the most
difficult and potentially frustrating, because we will be reviewing a
lot of basic stuff about functions. This part of the course will seem
too slow and too fast at the same time.
- This class is listed as an introductory course. I do not assume
that you've had calculus before. If you've had calculus elsewhere,
this still might be a good course for you. However, you should check
with me to make sure that you don't end up in a course that's a waste
of your time. Calculus has a scary reputation, but I don't think it's
an intrinsically hard subject. Calculus "makes sense," in that it
holds together as a conceptual whole, and doesn't require memorizing
lots of seeming unrelated facts.
- We will make use of the computer program Maple. Maple is
extremely powerful and useful; it is commonly used by scientists and
mathematicians. I have found that learning to use this program can
sometimes be a source of frustration for students. I expect this to
be much less the case this year because we have a lab session in which
you can get direct instruction in using Maple.
- This class is a lot of work. However, the workload is steady;
you'll be doing approximately the same amount of work each week.
We'll hit the ground running and try to get lots of stuff done the
next few weeks. The workload will taper off some toward the end of