Homework Solutions

  1. Problem write-ups are your permanent record of your understanding of the material covered. You will find your homework solutions to be very helpful when working on the exams. Thus, you'll want to make your solutions complete enough so that you can understand them a month or so after you wrote them.

  2. Solutions should be clearly and logically presented. This means that:
    1. Your method should always be clear. It should be easy to figure out what you're doing and why.
    2. Use a lot of space. I recommend skipping some lines if you use lined paper.
    3. Equations should usually be accompanied by prose. Before plunging into algebra, state what it is you're solving for. If there are any non-obvious steps in a calculation, explain them.
    4. If you made an interesting mistake before finding the solution, you might want to include that in your write-up, so that you don't make the same mistake again.
    5. Write equations in a logical order.

  3. Solutions should stand on their own; they should be understandable to someone who hasn't read the problem. This means that in most cases you should paraphrase the question before writing your response.

  4. The reason I emphasize writing up your problem solutions clearly and thoroughly is not because I am a neat freak or that I want to impose a style on you. Rather, I am convinced (and there is evidence in support of this proposition), that the act of writing helps to focus one's thoughts and engages your mind, leading to more enduring learning.

  5. An important part of improving your problem-solving skills is developing a style or a system. This way when you are faced with a problem you don't know how to solve, you know how to act like you do know how to solve it. You'd be amazed at what a difference this makes.

  6. When doing WeBWorK problems, I strongly suggest printing out a pdf of the assignment and doing your work on paper, and then submitting your solutions. Working on paper is a lot easier than staring at a screen, and for many problems you'll want to have a record of your methods and thinking when you're working on the exams.

  7. I will not give numerical grades on HW assignments. Instead, I will give a letter grade and try to include as many comments as I can. I'm mainly interested in seeing that you thoughtfully attacked the problem and wrote it up in a clear and coherent way. It is better to be clear and wrong than unclear and right. If you only want comments and don't want a letter grade on your HW, please write a note to this effect on the top of your assignment.

  8. The TAs for the class will help me with grading assignments. They will read over your assignment and mark things right or wrong and add some suggestions or corrections. I will also read over your assignments, possibly make some additional comments, and will assign the grade. The TAs will not play a role in grading your exams; I will grade these on my own.

  9. Finally, a few minor requests:
    1. On the top of the homework, please write the assignment number and the course name.
    2. If you don't have a stapler, that's ok. But please don't mangle and fold over the corner in an attempt to get the pages to stick together. Just write your name or initials on all pages and I'll gladly staple them together.
    3. Please don't hand in problems on paper that has been torn out of a spiral notebook.
    4. Please do the problems in order. If you do them out of order, please indicate this on your assignment and make it so that it's not hard to find them. Grading your homework should not be a scavenger hunt.