|MathXb, Spring 2001 Course Announcement|
From any Harvard computer, telnet to 'fas' and when prompted to 'login', type 'section'. At the password prompt, press 'enter'.
Goals of the Course:
Math X aims to provide you with a strong and solid understanding of precalculus and calculus material. We want you to leave the course with a solid set of skills and a versatile conceptual framework so you are well-equipped for future studies, whether in mathematics, the sciences, economics, or other disciplines. In order to achieve this goal we will emphasize multiple approaches to problem solving and stress understanding.
How will Math Xb relate to Math Xa ?
Format of the Course:
There will be a course text for Math Xb, just as for Math Xa. You will purchase it from Gnomen Copy. We will give you the first chapter in class and let you know when the rest is ready.
Robin Gottlieb is the coursehead - which means that all complaints about the course and the text go to her. (She is eager to meet you, but she likes writing this sentence about complaints in the third person! )
Daily homework assignments: Problems will generally be assigned each class and are due at the next class. Assignments will be marked and returned by the following meeting. Some of the problems will look different from problems discussed in class. This is not an accident. We want you to actively think about the material, to be able to apply it in unfamiliar settings, and to interpret it in different ways. Therefore we will not give you a recipe for solving every problem. Your job is to accept this as a challenge - a challenge that we plan to help you meet.
Problems are an integral part of the course, and it is virtually impossible to do well on the exams without working through the homework problems in a thoughtful manner. Don't just crank through the computations and write them down ... think about the meaning of the computations you are performing and the answers you get. The main point is not to come up with specific answers to the particular problems you're working on, but to develop an understanding of what you're doing so that you can apply your reasoning to a wide range of similar mathematical situations. It is unlikely that later on in life you will see the exact same math problems you're working on now - so learn the material in such a way that it is a portable tool.
Solutions to homework will be made available on this course Web site. Lab leaders are in charge of the solutions. We encourage you to form study groups with other students in your class so you can discuss the work with one another. Early in the semester your Section Leader will provide names and contact information for everyone in your section in order to help facilitate discussion. This is most useful after you have worked independently. Although we encourage you to talk with your classmates, work must be written up individually. Homework must be turned in on time. Assuming all your homeworks are turned in on time, then we will drop your lowest five homework grades when computing your homework average. Suppose due to an emergency one of your homeworks is not submitted on time. You can correct it yourself, using the solutions posted on the Web, and submit a completed, corrected assignment to be checked off and then your lowest four homeworks will be dropped - and so one, up to a count of five.
The basic notion here is that students should be able to present his/her scores in a way that sets off the work of highest quality.
(*) Lab scores will be based on a combination of attendance and scores on lab quizzes and gateway tests. Gateway tests will be given periodically in lab or on the Web, depending upon the status of the technology. Questions on gateways will be relatively short and direct. You will either pass a gateway test or you will take variations on the test until you have passed. We will tell you in advance what will be covered. Passing the gateways gives you a 70 point cushion on your lab score. Please try not to save passing the gateways for a reading period activity! Passing the gateways gives you a 70 point cushion on your lab score. Quizzes and\or lab attendance contribute to the other 30 points. If your final exam score is substantially higher than all your other scores, your section leader may weigh the final exam as even more than 80% of your exam score.
Notice that using this grading scheme the final examination can count as little as 32% or as much as 72% of your final course score depending on how it compares to your other grades. The final and homework can collectively be worth as much as 84% of your grade.
Last update, 1/29/2001, firstname.lastname@example.org