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Know your Strengths and build on them!

  • Look at math as a problem solving activity, not merely as rules to be memorized.
  • Connect new math learning to what you have previously learned and how both fit into a larger whole.
  • Polish and practice important math "tools", i.e. procedures, algorithms, concepts that are essential to the math you are currently learning.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Dialogue to sound out your own math thoughts, to gain added insights, to improve your math vocabulary, to create a "community of learning", and to be a more active learner.
  • Practice, practice, practice and practice. There is not only a need to understand but also to establish fluency with your math skills and applications of them. "Getting it" without "doing it" is not enough.
  • Go beyond rote memorization. Strive for conceptual understanding to increase your ability to use mathematics in different contexts with ease. "doing it" without "getting it" is also not enough.
  • Take advantage of the RIT math, learning, and support resources. There are many.
  • Respect and honor your progress.

Practical Study Tips

  • Go to class. If you have to miss class, let the professor know, in person, or by E-mail.
  • Do you homework. When you have completed working on it, identify what you have learned.
  • Listen actively. If the material does not make sense, write down your questions.
  • Participate - i.e. ask questions, share insights. If you are not comfortable asking questions in class, consider putting them on a 3 X 5 cards or in a math journal and ask the instructor to respond that way.
  • Study for tests starting at least a day before the test.
  • Take notes, i.e. key information, at a level that still allows you to think.
  • Review your notes as soon after class as possible. Greater retention and understanding is insured while the information is still fresh in your mind.
  • Redo missed test questions.
  • Consider reviewing for tests in a study group. Get involved with your math text book beyond highlighting only the formulas.

Typical College Math Student's Statement...and the Tips in Response

"I'm stuck on a homework problem. Let me see if I can find an example that will help"
That is an "after the fact" response. And you're missing out on the deeper advantages of your textbook examples. Math textbooks generally sequence the examples in a specific order as a basis of instruction. Therefore, if you do the section's examples in sequences before you do the homework, you will have prepared yourself for additional practice.

"I make stupid, careless mistakes"
A careless mistake is one that you would catch by reviewing your work. For example. 2 X 3 = 5. Often, what we call "stupid"or careless" is neither one. The mistake is actually a point in our learning where we have either a misconception or a missing understanding or knowing. Even a simple "-" in math has various meanings and applications. So missing a "-" sign should be looked at with some respect.

"I read the book but it never does me any good"
Math books are often not sample reading nor are they meant to be simply read. Math is a problem solving activity that requires more of your involvement than simply reading. Your understand depends on your thinking, not just trying to decipher somebody else's. Unless you are working with your won math thinking, you will notice how many steps the book left out and possibly get lost. Establish your own thinking and doing trail.

"I understand the lecture but I can't do the homework"
The expectation that you should be able to do the homework, particularly if it is new material, is very distorted. Consider the situation of you watching a baseball game. You understand the rules and the plays. Does that mean that you would be able to hit the ball just because you understand the game? It is the difference between being a "spectator", i.e. receptive understanding, and being a "player", active doing. You need to bridge the "receptive and the "active". Doing the textbook examples, or reworking problems done in class are two ways to bridge.