I love teaching. I teach because I enjoy it, and because it is
something I can do pretty well (from what past students have
told me). One of the greatest contributions I can make as an
instructor is to foster within you a desire to learn. Second to
this, I hope to stimulate your interest in mathematics
specifically by communicating my own enjoyment and appreciation
of the subject. Many students view mathematics as
a disconnected, lifeless set of rules that seemingly have little
practical value. I try to convey the idea that mathematics is
vibrant, useful, and necessary as a means for describing and analyzing the
world around you. I attempt to make relevant connections within
mathematics and between mathematics and other subjects. I also
hope to share with you an appreciation for the rich history and
intrinsic beauty of mathematics as a pure discipline.
There is not much benefit in teaching with
obsolete information or outdated methodology. I am committed to
staying current in the field of mathematics and teaching
pedagogy through personal research and by participating in
classes, conferences, workshops, email discussion groups, and
mentoring. Teaching is a craft, a skill that needs to be
continually nurtured, sharpened, and evaluated.
I believe that learning is a cooperative
process in which both the instructor and the student have
important roles. Generally, I believe the role of a teacher is
to be a facilitator or guide. A teacher’s job is far more than
simply conveying
knowledge. Teachers should enable students to become
responsible for their own learning and cultivate critical and creative thinking
skills. Because people learn in different ways, I try
employ a variety of teaching methods and technologies. Regardless of which method I use at a particular
time, I strive to engage students in thinking about and
communicating mathematics.
Every instructor has different strengths. For
me, I think my greatest strengths as an educator are explaining
new concepts and methods very clearly, structuring the material,
and organizing each class session to enhance your understanding,
involvement, and interest. I will strive to
challenge you intellectually by emphasizing concepts or deeper
levels of understanding. I
am not a breeder of parrots! I
will not just tell you what to do or how to do it, or to simply
have you memorize a bunch of algorithms to repeat later on an
exam. I will ask
you to think and expect you to apply what you have learned!
Learning is not a passive activity. It
requires energy, effort, and time. As your instructor, the best
I can do is to provide an ample opportunity for learning to take
place. It is up to you as the student to respond to this
opportunity and consummate the learning process. Effective,
active learners take responsibility for their learning.
As Abraham Lincoln once said,
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more
important than any one thing.
There is
no one right way to learn; there are many ways and it is
important for you to explore and find ways that best serve your
needs and that best enable you to develop the characteristics of
effective learning. Just as you
will never become an accomplished cyclist by watching the Tour de France on
television, you will never acquire even the most basic mathematical
skills by watching me work problems on the board. You must participate
if you want to learn. It is my belief that the only way to learn
mathematics is to do mathematics. While the process of
reading examples in textbooks and listening to a lecture is
valuable, the real learning comes through your own sustained efforts at
solving mathematical problems.
Assessing student learning can be a difficult
task. I will principally rely on timed examinations that will be
given in class. Each exam will contain a variety of problems,
some that are fairly routine in nature, others that require a
deeper understanding of the concepts. Do not expect every
problem to be identical to the homework. Some problems may
require you to combine several ideas, or to use the concepts you
have learned in a slightly new way (to assess the higher levels
of learning such as application, analysis, and synthesis). It is
unlikely you will do well on exams if all you do is memorize
formulas or solutions to problems. Concentrate on gaining a deep
understanding of the key concepts and themes, rather than
relying on rote memorization of algorithms or representative
problems. Also, keep in mind that I am assessing not only your
ability to find the correct solution to a problem, but also the
means by which you arrive at your solution and your ability to
express your steps neatly, logically, and with appropriate
notation. Other
assessment measures may include such things as quizzes,
worksheets, projects, group assignments, etc. I generally do not
grade on a curve. I prefer to assess each student based on an
objective standard of ability rather than relative to the
ability of some other person. Here is a brief description of my
grading standards:
A 
The student demonstrates an
exceptional competence and understanding. They are able to
solve most problems correctly and make at most a few careless
mistakes. The student demonstrates a significant commitment to the
course by completing all assignments and attending all class
sessions. The student is very well prepared for a following
mathematics course.

B 
The student demonstrates an above
average competence and understanding. They are able to solve
most problems correctly with one or two conceptual errors and some
careless mistakes. The student demonstrates a strong
commitment to the course by completing all assignments and
attending nearly all class sessions. The student is
adequately to well prepared for a following mathematics
course.

C 
The student demonstrates an average competence and understanding. They are able to solve
a majority of problems correctly, and others partially with some conceptual errors and careless mistakes. The student demonstrates a
reasonable
commitment to the course by completing most assignments and
attending most class sessions. The student is marginally
to adequately prepared for a following mathematics course.

D 
The student demonstrates minimal competence and understanding. They are able to solve
some problems correctly, but make many mistakes and show
significant gaps in their understanding of concepts. The student demonstrates a
fair to reasonable
commitment to the course by completing a majority of assignments and
attending most class sessions. The student is
insufficiently prepared for a following mathematics course. 
I want every student in my class to be
successful, and I am here to help you through the learning
process. I encourage you to ask questions in class, and to come
by for help outside of class when you run into difficulty. Click
on the Study Skills link for some specific suggestions on
how to facilitate the learning process, or on the Getting
Help link for a list of additional resources available to
you.
