Funded by the National Science Foundation
 
 

The following proposed course outline has been developed by the Math Study Skills team at San Diego Mesa College with input from the participants from the December NSF workshop. Comments and suggestions are always welcome: tteegard@sdccd.net

  • Differences between
    • high school and college courses
      • college classes are voluntary
      • college classes are condensed/faster paced
      • high schools teach algorithms only (?)
      • high schools give extra credit and count effort in the grade
      • high school classes consist of groups of friends for networking
      • high school attendance is mandatory
    • math and other courses
      • math requires studying every day
      • math is a language, hence if you don't understand the vocabulary you can't understand the subject
      • math is a skill course, hence if you don't practice you lose it
      • math consists of sequential courses, hence you must build on previous knowledge
      • it is socially acceptable to be poor in math
  • Learning Styles
    • evaluate the learning styles
    • how can you improve your learning, based on your preferred learning style
  • Anxiety
    • causes - a math autobiography can help determine
      • unprepared or under prepared
      • previous math instructor traumas
      • previous failure
      • gender ( boys blame external sources while girls blame internal sources)
      • comparison to others by parents and/or teachers
      • avoidance, taking the math course as the last requirement for continuation, hence increasing the pressure to pass
    • overcoming -
      • anxiety is a learned response and can be unlearned
      • stop negative thinking
      • use meditation techniques
  • Classroom Skills
    • choosing an instructor
      • determine your best learning style
      • peer mentoring
      • interview instructor
      • observe a class
      • determine if the instructor using group work, overheads, lots of homework, daily quizzes ect.
    • interaction in the classroom
      • sit in the learning triangle in the best position for your learning style
      • come on time and be prepared
      • ensure that cell phones are off
      • acceptable behavior in class requires respect for all
      • ask questions
    • note taking
      • if appropriate, use a tape recorder
      • write down comments next to the problems
      • do not expect to understand everything, you will need to review your notes in light of the textbook and the homework
      • collaborate with others to fill in blanks
    • interaction during office hours
      • come with specific questions
      • try the problems first
      • ask questions, don't blame - teachers are human too
  • Study Habits
    • study routine
      • keep a neat notebook with notes, homework, graded quizzes and tests
      • set aside a particular time and place to study - be sure it is quiet and you will not be interrupted
    • time management
      • schedule your classes so that study time is part of every day
      • balance your workload and home life with school and studying
      • plan to take your math courses in sequential semesters
    • study buddy
      • find someone in your class with a similar schedule so you can study on a regular basis together
      • have the phone number of at least two other students so you can get the notes and assignments when you miss class
      • be sure your study buddy is also dedicated to passing the course
    • textbook/homework
      • review the material in the textbook before trying to do the homework
      • summarize the important terms, theorems, and strategies in the section before attempting the homework
      • if you get stuck on a problem, review the section in the book
      • don't spend all your time on one problem, skip it and go on - the next problem may help you remember how to do the previous one
      • mark homework problems to be asked in class, tutoring sessions or office hours
  • Testing
    • preparation
      • start preparing at least 3 days before the test
      • explain in your own words how to work each of the problem types
      • review past notes
      • review past homework, noting those problem you could not do originally
      • make flash cards
      • keep telling yourself that you can do it
      • have a good night's sleep
    • taking
      • arrive early and ensure that you have your materials ready
      • do some positive self-take
      • look over the test and indicate those problems that you can do easily, do these first
      • even if you don't think you can work a problem, start it
    • analyzing
      • when the test is returned, review and classify the types of mistakes
      • rework the problems you can now do
      • go over any you still do not understand with the teacher, a tutor or study buddy
      • be sure to save the test for preparation for the final exam
  • Resources
    • tutoring
      • find the tutoring center at the school
      • see if you qualify for any specialized tutoring such as STAR or EOPS
    • counseling
      • see a counselor or math chair to determine if you are taking the appropriate math courses
      • develop an education plan
      • don't let math keep you from pursuing the career of your choice
    • DSPS
      • it is ok to ask for special help if you need it
      • there are many resources available including tutoring and test proctoring
      • privacy ensures that no one other than your DSPS counselor and instructor need to know about your disability
      • using the resources only helps you
  • Calculators
    • types
      • ensure that the calculator is a scientific calculator, preferably with statistical functions
      • don't get a calculator that is more complicated than you need
      • calculators with a screen that show the entire expression are good for checking input errors
    • use and misuse
      • a calculator is a tool, it does not do the thinking for you
      • as much as possible, do simple arithmetic in your head - this keeps the basic facts fresh in your head
      • do not rely on your calculator to do all your fraction problems