Do's and Don'ts : The following list is not complete, but is an indication of what is expected of you in a math class. This list will provide some guidance for sudying mathematics effectively.
DO: Study mathematics as opposed to doing mathematics. Mathematics is an intellectual activity, use your reasoning ability to study mathematics.
DO: Attend every class and always be attentive. Arrive before class begins and remain until class is dismissed.
DO: Participate in class. Answer questions. Ask questions. If you don't understand a concept ask for an explanation.
DO: Take notes in class. Notes should consist primarily of concepts, explanations, and unfamiliar algebra. Surely you can reproduce the arithmetic and familiar algebra.
DO: Study every day at two or three different periods of time during the day. Probably an hour of concentrated uninterrupted study of mathematics with no distractions is all you should attempt without a break.
DO: Study concepts.
DO: Memorize definitions, important properties, and important rules.
DO: Study lecture notes, textbook, website, and handout materials.
DO: Use definitions, concepts, and deductive reasoning for EVERY step in EVERY exercise.
DO: Learn to generalize and to think abstractly.
DO: Always speak and write using correct mathematics and correct grammar.
DO: Review definitions, concepts and procedures every day.
DO: Review old tests to become familiar with their style. These are from previous semesters and are found on the web site.
DO: Expect some test questions which are completely different than any previously discussed examples.
DO: Expect all test questions to focus on concepts.
DO: Accept responsibility for your education.
DO: Speak loudly and clearly.
DON'T: Do mathematics. Mathematics is not a motor skill so please do not approach it as such.
DON'T: Skip class, arrive late, or leave early.
DON'T: Cram for tests. Study regularly and constantly. Review for tests. If you need to learn the material as you are reviewing for a test, it is too late.
DON'T: Assume "getting the right answer" is the ultimate goal. This might be an indication of pure dumb luck!
DON'T: Try to study by only working problems. Learn mathematics in order to work problems. Do not try to learn mathematics by working problems.
DON'T: Assume test questions will be questions you have already seen or answered. Questions on tests are not intended to determine if you can mimic a previously demonstrated procedure. The purpose of a test question is to determine if you know, understand, and can use a concept.
DON'T: Don't think of algebra in college as numeric in nature. Although some parts of Algebra can be illustrated with numbers, in general Algebra is the study of new mathematical creatures which are even more abstract than numbers.
DON'T: Talk to each other during class. Not only does this activity deprive you of the lecture content, it is disruptive to your fellow students and shows extreme disrespect for the lecturer.
DON'T: Work problems during class. If problems are so easy that they can be worked while attending to a lecture, then it is probably not very important to bother with the exercise.
DON'T: Work on other material during class.
DON'T: Hesitate to ask a question. Be assured, if you have a question, more than one of your fellow students have the same questions and virtually all in the class can benefit from a discussion of your question.
DON'T: Expect algebra in college to be like High School Algebra. The pace is faster in college. The amount of independent study expected outside of class is significantly more than in high school.
Delano P. Wegener, Ph.D.