Math basics need be strengthening
February 11, 2009 1:20 PM   Subscribe

In need of some daily source of random math problems (upto basic calculus) that will reinforce or (if necessary) re-establish some real fundamental concepts in the algebra portions of calculus, unless something else might work.

So I got my first exam back from 2nd Semester Calc based physics today and discovered I received a 78/100, which frankly is not bad compared to the average in the class (mid 60s) but still not great.

My problems were rooted in basic algebra that comes with methods of calculus, and even some elementary stuff as well. One example being I forgot to leave some variables alone in doing partial differentiation (w.r.t. z: 3yz^2 I took to 6z instead of 6yz OR w.r.t. y: 2y^2z^2 I took to 4yz instead of 4yz^2).

Another problem I ran into was that I took 10^-5 to be like 10E-5 on a regular calculator, which among a mess of scientific numbers could be a bad habit.

This has been a recurring problem over the years, but thanks to mercy of professors here and there, it has not been a problem as far as grading is concerned. Now that I have a pretty 'traditional' professor in the sense he will not accept such errors or weigh more heavily on concept, and seeing that I will be transferring into the Big Ten pretty soon, I need to correct this sooner rather than later.

So basically, a full daily workout of fundamentals covering a wide range of material would be in order, and preferably something that does not take too much time.

Unless there is some other thing worth looking into...? I mean I could just remind myself not to do that again, but I think I have been there before. Some reconfig is in need. Somehow. Even some simple daily physics probs might do the trick.

(RSS, if possible, is preferred)
posted by JoeXIII007 to Education (4 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I teach Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 in a high school. I have tons of worksheets that may help you. I have parent/teacher conferences tonight, so I have a lot to work on at the moment, but I will send you some of my worksheets this week. I'll send any answer keys I have as well.
posted by junipero at 1:34 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As they say, practice makes perfect. The sites I know of are more like warehouses of worksheets and other resources, rather than daily RSS feeds of problems, but doing X number of problems from the worksheetrs per day as practice may be helpful.

For algebra skills, PurpleMath's Quizzes and Worksheets may a good place to start. PurpleMath has some great lessons on algebra if you would like to review of any of the topics.

For algebra and other basics, the Jefferson Math Project may be helpful. It is aimed at New York State math teachers, but the worksheets and other resources may be very helpful.

For calculus, has great resources, including sample problems and solutions.

You may also want to take a look at Common Errors in College Math. It may help you identify and remember mistakes that you make so that you can avoid them in the future.

Good for you for working on this. Good luck!
posted by wiskunde at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

One example being I forgot to leave some variables alone in doing partial differentiation

The only way you can remember this is by doing it over and over and over again. It isn't a problem with your algebra--this is a problem with remembering partial differentiation calculus rules. Unless there is something else that you are mentioning, you just need to be practicing partial differentiation. If I were you, I'd buy something like "10000 WORKED COLLEGE MATH PROBLEMS" and skip around. (Schaum's Outlines work quite well in most cases, and if you don't want to buy anything new, work the example problems in your old books.)

Look over your test again. Note problem areas. Practice similar problems. This is the only way to fix it.

I tutor physics and I find that most students really come to terms with their math knowledge during it. You're probably just experiencing something similar, and it's great that you are rising to the challenge. As you work harder at your class, your understanding will grow--don't worry too much about the problems you got wrong. Applying your math knowledge to new situations can be one of the most difficult things in the world, and by dealing with it now, you'll have a clear and beautiful understanding of mathematics that you will be able to express with absolute ease.
posted by vas deference at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Scary to think that no one has developed an RSS feed to do this. I mean we have a daily online soduku and crosswords and everything... [/rant]

Anywho, thanks for the answers everyone!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:48 AM on February 13, 2009

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