Math 20 Math 20 logo Math 25 Math 25 logo Math Tips Math tips logo       valid HTML 4.01

Study Skills

(Thanks go to many for helping compile these ideas, especially Deanna Murphy, Mary Stinnett, and Don McNair.)

Student Responsibilities link to here link to index

Note: LCC students are bound by the college's student rights and code of conduct. This page focuses on study skills instead of those legal issues.

Ask questions! The instructor does not know what is confusing to you unless you ask questions.

Be aware of the current topic and work towards mastering it. Avoid being "sort of" proficient at important topics. Be aware of how a new topic relates to old topics.

Never be content not understanding a class topic you are expected to understand. Ask questions! Learn it promptly. Visit office hours, schedule special office hours, or get help from the MRC or friends.

comic from Baby Blues about asking questions at school, by Rick Kirkmann and Jerry Scott, distributed on November 29th 2009 by King Features Syndicate

Do not fall behind. It is expected that students might be very confused about the current topic -- after all, if students already understood it we would not need to teach it. But students should not be confused about past topics. If this is your situation do not despair, but prioritize getting the help you need. Use office hours, the MRC, the textbook, help from friends, or other resources to catch up if you notice yourself falling behind.

Do not rely on extra credit to help your grade. There are no extra credit assignments. The final exam will have a few extra problems you can choose which to skip; doing all the problems allows you to earn a few extra points.

Plan your term wisely, and budget your time carefully. Keep aware of deadlines. Know when you will have quizzes, midterms, and the final exam. If you are in the wrong class, change by the end of the second week. If you wish to change your grading option, do so by the end of the eighth week.

Attend classes. You are paying for an education; if you choose not to show up that's your business, but it's about as smart as ordering a pizza to go and then never picking it up.

Keep in touch when absent. You will not be able to "make up" a late assignment or missed midterm unless you notify me about the absence or missed work before the start of the next class.

Be aware of your dominant learning styles. Ask for instruction that fits how you learn. For example, if you are primarily an auditory learner then after the instructor does something during lecture ask if he or she can explain it out loud a second way. If you are a visual learner, read textbook sections thoroughly before we get to them in class.

Write neatly and organize your written work. For every problem, show at least one step or write an explanatory comment. Developing your ability to communicate mathematically in writing is incredibly important for future success in math classes.

Be polite. Be helpful to classmates who do not "get" something you understand. Talking during lecture should be at most a quick and quiet whisper to help a confused neighbor (but it usually would be better if the neighbor asked a question!). Wait to pack up your materials until the class is dismissed. Keep all your papers. No phones or headphones during any kind of test.

An "Incomplete" grade is reserved for special situations when a student, otherwise passing, has completed at least three-quarters of the assignments and needs to finish the course during the first few days of the next term.

During the eighth week of the term, any students who are no longer participating in the class have four options:

If you are unsure which option is best, please check with your advisor.

Instructor Responsibilities link to here link to index

I stop and ask for questions. During lecture and after doing any problem on the board I stop and ask if anyone has questions. I may even call on students, especially if a few students are dominating the discussion while others are not participating at all.

I am aware of student learning styles. I help visual learners by including some of my spoken commentary on the board (or all of it if requested). I help auditory learners by linking to videos within my online lecture notes. I help kinesthetic by providing time for group work in class and also including a few games and hands-on projects each term.

I have organized lectures. Each class starts by summarizing what we will be doing that day. Incomplete lecture notes are available online (these lack example problems and spoken commentary). I sometimes prepare step-by-step answers to example problems but usually do not, to slow me down to note-taking speed and to demonstrate that success in math is about understanding concepts rather than perfection in mental arithmetic.

I do short-term review each class. For the sake of smooth continuity, each class should start with some review of the previous lecture. In case the questions from students do not cover the "core" of what was covered during the previous lecture, I will have ready a problem from the material that does this.

I help students network with each other. Students who wish may give me permission to share their name and/or e-mail or phone number with classmates so I can help students form study groups or share notes. I can also post student notes in one of the departmental glass-fronted display cases if you want to share your notes with the world.

I provide practice exams and time in class to partly go over them together. This is the most efficient way I know to do long-term review as a group. Although students are responsible for asking questions, I sometimes help by providing obvious choices of what to ask questions about.

I plan unscheduled hours. The term includes a couple days during which no new material will be presented. These are initially scheduled during the last week of class time as review days. During the term, if it becomes apparent we need to spend extra time on a topic, I will move one of the "extra" days to avoid rushing through material.

I plan less-scheduled time. A few classes will deliberately have lecture end early to give students some time to get started on homework in groups during class time. Please do not abandon class early! The topics for which I do this are ones for which the homework generates worthwhile questions. During these times of group work I will pause working to share things on the board.

I help students learn note-taking. Learning about note-taking during a math lecture is not an official part of the curriculum, but it is something many students need to work on. Note-taking for math is different than note-taking for other subjects.

I welcome ideas from students. Sometimes it is appropriate to take a tangent from the lecture to pursue a student's "what if?" type of idea. I also welcome comments, especially during office hours, about how the curriculum or my teaching can be improved.

I have consistent expectations for "good" answers to math problems. My standards are the same for problems I do at the board, homework solutions, and answers on quizzes and tests.

I grade no stricter than 100% - 97% = A+, 96% - 93% = A, 92% - 90% = A-, 89% - 87% = B+, 86% - 83% = B, 82% - 80% = B-, 79% - 77% = C+, 76% - 73% = C, 72% - 70% = C-, < 70% = F.

I am prohibited by College policy from sharing grade information by phone or e-mail.