Twelve basic points of which you should be aware (and they're all important!):
One: First and foremost:
Remember the numbers 3 and 12.
Do not overload yourself academically. Take no more than 3 classes, take no more than 12 units (see Item Two below). Students tend to overload themselves in an attempt to finish/transfer as soon as possible, but instead, the huge workload, coupled with family and job responsibilities, can easily overwhelm students. The more you exceed either (or BOTH) of those numbers, the more risk you have of ending the course with a D, W, or F.
FOR SUMMER: Reduce those numbers: you should take a maximum of 2 classes or 8 units - better yet, only ONE class, this math class (for 5 units). To repeat: The more you exceed either (or BOTH) of those numbers [ 2 or 8 ], the more risk you have of ending the course with a D, W, or F.
Two: The expectation is that you study outside of class at least twice [even better–at least three times] the number of hours (units) you are taking. (As an example: A 2-unit class would require a minimum of 4 [or 6] hours of outside study and work each week.) [An alternate computation is 2 [or 3] hours per day, 7 days a week, so that a class would require 14 or 21 hours per week.]
The college deems 12 units to be a full-time load; Why? Because you should be spending a minimum of 24 hours per week studying (including weekends). Thus a total of at least 36 hours per week (a full time job!) related to school. Now go back and re-read ITEM One above! )
Three: Cell phones/pagers/etc: Modern day electronics may give you the convenience of making and receiving a call from anywhere, but it does not give you the right to do that, especially in class. It is annoying to your peers (and your instructor). Leaving class to answer a call and then returning is also disruptive. Therefore turn those things off before entering class. Even if they are in vibrator mode, and you look at it during a quiz or exam, it may be misconstrued as cheating (is someone text messaging you?) and your paper will be taken. Work up to that point will be counted. Don't run the risk of losing your paper.
Four: PRESENTATION OF YOUR MATHEMATICS: To make your math presentable so that it is easier to read, easier for you to check and correct your own work, and minimize the deduction of points, you should
i) use pencil, not ink, to do math. If you make a mistake, you can erase and rewrite. Crossing out -in pencil or in ink- makes your work messy and harder to read or recheck.
ii) do all math on unlined paper - as in the type of paper you use in a computer printer. DO NOT DO MATH ON LOOSE-LEAF PAPER, as there is a tendency to write between the blue lines, and squeeze your symbols into a tiny (vertical) space. Use graph paper only for making a graph, not for doing your entire math problem.
iii) use = sign(s) when working with algebraic expressions and/or equations
iv) DO NOT CROSS OUT (DNCO) ! The tendency to cross out work, especially when reducing fractions, makes your work messier, harder to read, difficult to review and recheck.
v) When solving equations, get rid of parentheses (GROP) and get rid of fractions (GROF). Should I write one or the other of these acronyms, it means you're working too hard, and could likely do the problem in fewer and easier steps. But there are a variety of ways on how to solve a problem.
vi) Format and Presentation ( F & P ): Mathematics has a variety of requirements in how information is presented. For example, if you're solving a quadratic equation by the Quadratic Formula,
3x^2 + 5x – 1 = 0 the next line of your work must be
x = –5 ± sqrt(etc.) because you are now giving the answer for x . Leaving off the " x " and writing = –5 ± sqrt(etc.) or writing only –5 ± etc. is bad format.
When solving a quadratic equation by factoring:
x^2 – 5x – 6 = 0 which becomes ( x – 6 ) ( x + 1 ) = 0 there are several important items:
don't leave off the = 0
it is bad format to just write x = 6,–1 There is no such number as 6,–1 Further, where do the numbers 6 and –1 come from? What algebra produces those numbers?
What you must do is first set each factor equal to 0 ( a KEY principal of algebra is that if a product is equal to 0 , then each factor is equal to 0 )
Thus x^2 – 5x – 6 = 0 becomes ( x – 6 ) ( x + 1 ) = 0 which then becomes x–6 = 0 "OR" x + 1 = 0 . (Why MUST the word 'or' be part of the work?) This produces two linear equations which can then be solved, so that the correct presentation of the answer is x = 6 or x = –1 .
THE PRESENTATION OF YOUR MATH IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE ACCURACY OF YOUR MATH! Points will be deducted for poor presentation of your math work.
If you want perfect points (full credit) for the presentation of your math, you must show perfect (full) work. To put it another way, if your 'work' [such as a numerical answer] seems to be the result of good or lucky guessing, or just doing some sort of calculator arithmetic, and does not use algebra, trig, calculus, or the appropriate methods shown in class, then you will not receive full credit.)
Five: At the end of any mini-test or exam, you will have TEN ( 10 ) seconds to turn in your paper. If you turn in your paper after that, it will be considered LATE, and a penalty will be assessed. The simple reason for this is that it is unfair for some students to keep working while others are following directions and appropriately stopping and turning in their papers.
Six: Like the stock market, past performance (in previous Math classes) is not (necessarily) an indicator of future success. Whatever your past experience has been, this is a brand new one. Be positive!
Form study groups, typically three to five people in a group (2 doesn't work, and 6 is too large). Sometimes the best way to understand something is to (try to) explain it to others. Exchange email addresses and phone numbers so that you can contact several people (in case you are absent; what one person may consider unnecessary may be important to another, and thus to you.) Though no one in the group (or class) may be able to completely solve a problem, someone may make a comment that will enable others to make the breakthrough to the solution.
Seven: Seek outside help, either from me or one of the other math instructors during office hours, or go to the Math Lab S-43 for 'drop-in' tutoring (it's free!). You can also sign up for more extensive tutoring and study skills workshops. It has been documented that those students who do sign up for them typically end up with at least one grade higher than if they hadn't signed up.
Eight: Be patient and persevere! Math is not a spectator sport! You have to participate in class and in your study group, and you have to be willing to keep working problems; do not get frustrated and give up after the first few stumbling blocks.
Nine: You should have fairly good -perhaps even very good- arithmetic skills. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic; your ability to quickly compute and make a common-sense estimate of an answer will be a big aide in determining if you did the problem correctly. Likewise you should have good geometry skills, as trigonometry is an extension of geometry. Calculus combines algebra, geometry, analytic geometry, and trigonometry.
Ten: "Extra Credit" is an opportunity provided by the instructor for you to do additional work; typically this shows up in the form of an additional problem on a mini-test or exam. "Extra" means "in addition to", not "in place of". Do not ask for extra credit because you did poorly on an exam and want to make up the points.
Eleven: – Final Exam
The final exam is already scheduled (day and time; see the DAC course information webpage http://www.deanza.fhda.edu/calendar/ ). Make sure you know when it is; it is your responsibility to know the day and time of the final. Do not ask if you can take the final early; that is not allowed. If you miss the final, you may not be able to make it up.
Twelve: – Dropping the class
Dropping the class -as was signing up for the class- is completely the student's responsibility. Students can drop using the telephone STAR System or via the web, or directly at the A&R Office; the instructor does not need to sign anything.
After the "Last Day to Drop with a W" (when is that? make sure you know!):
A) if a student has in fact never attended the class, the student can go to the Registrar's Office and request a Blue Addendum Form, then contact the instructor for that class.
B) if the student has attended even one class, the student obtains from the Registrar's Office a "Petition to the Academic Council to Drop a Class", then follows the procedure of that petition.
NOTE: If the most recent mini-test or exam has not yet been returned by the drop date, you must make your decision (to continue in the class or drop) based on all your previous points to date. Waiting for the exam to be returned, or picking it up after the drop date, and then claiming you did not have that information by the drop date IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE EXCUSE in the drop procedure. (see Schedule of Classes)
There must be "documented extenuating circumstances" to justify processing a drop after the last day to drop; but the decision to allow a drop after the deadline is made by higher college authorities, and it is not automatically guaranteed.
NOTE: A student is allowed to retake a class only once (thus a total of two times officially enrolled in the class); which is to say, receiving a D, F, or W in a class counts as one of those enrollments. Retaking and receiving another D/F/W counts as the 2nd time of enrollment. Generally, because of the current financial situation in the state and the college, the College will not allow a student to retake a class for the third time. Which means you would most likely have to register for that class at another college, and transfer your grade back to De Anza.
Finally, I wish you a successful quarter. Do talk with me (long before you reach the point of wanting to drop the class) and let me know how things are going for you. Don't give up easily! Do your best!