» Teaching

 

My Teaching Philosophy:

As most of my past students will attest to, I am very demanding of my students but not unfairly demanding. I work hard at teaching and I am as passionate about my teaching as I am about my research. I expect my students to work hard in return.

Most of us cannot do mathematics simply by watching someone else do mathematics - likely, you have heard the old (but very true) cliche "mathematics is not a spectator sport". Mathematics was, is, and always will be difficult for most of us - the only way to understand the subject properly is to study hard (and often) and work lots and lots of problems (repetition is good!). Don't be fooled by gimmicks or trends (there are plenty out there!) that pretend to make aspects of the subject 'easy'; if you really want to learn mathematics, it usually involves tremendous effort and hard work. To loosely paraphrase Euclid "There is no royal road to understanding mathematics".

In all of my classes that I teach, I do provide a detailed syllabus with assigned problems at the end of each section covered. However, I do not collect homework from students. It is my feeling that once students enter the university, they should be responsible and mature enough to make sure that these assignments are completed. I do give weekly quizzes as my way of keeping the students up to date with the course material.

In most of my courses, I will not allow the use of a calculator. There are some very interesting assigned problems, designed for a calculator, on your syllabus that I recommend the students work and solve. Certainly, I do not want to underscore the value of a calculator; it is an exceptional tool for applying many mathematical algorithms (like Simpson's Rule, Runge-Kutta methods, etc.). I do, however, want my students to concentrate on having a better understanding of prerequisite mathematics and to focus on improving their mental arithmetic skills. While it is true that "calculators are powerful tools for discovering and understanding concepts", I have noticed that the algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric skills of students have greatly suffered as a result of, I believe, an over-dependence on calculators. In fact, in my twenty-five years of teaching, I have never seen poorer skills in these areas from our students (I certainly do not want to be offensive or insulting to my students - or any other student - by making this statement; I mention this merely as an observation that I find quite alarming). I expect students to know how to compute, for example, sin(30°) without having to consult their calculator for the answer. Furthermore, I find it disturbing that many students these days can no longer sketch, without using their calculator, a simple rational function. In my undergraduate classes, as a prerequisite, I expect students to be able to graph such rational functions, factor simple polynomials, simplify algebraic expressions, and know the fundamentals of trigonometry - all without using a calculator!

With the help of my colleagues, I have put a link to our departmental web page called Studying Tips. This is a helpful guide that every college student should read and understand. I am very serious about educating my students; I am here to help my students if they seek my help.

 

Teaching: 2002-2013


  • Fall Semester 2013
  • Spring Semester 2013
  • Fall Semester 2012
  • Spring Semester 2012
  • Fall Semester 2011
  • Spring Semester 2011
  • Fall Semester 2010
  • Spring Semester 2010
  • Fall Semester 2009
  • Spring Semester 2009
  • Fall Semester 2008
  • Spring Semester 2008
  • Fall Semester 2007
  • Spring Semester 2007
  • The courses listed below were taught at Utah State University. Students are welcome to download any examinations below for extra practice!
  • Fall Semester 2006
  • Spring Semester 2006
  • Fall Semester 2005
  • Fall Semester 2004
  • Spring Semester 2004
  • Fall Semester 2003
  • Spring Semester 2003
  • Fall Semester 2002