This is awesome for Math 10C or a review in Math 20-1. Are there ways we can invite variables into the expression? Perhaps rolling a die to see what exponents variables will be raised to? ]]>

I love it when my students “cheat” on assignments. Almost invariably these attempts drive them to invest more effort rather than less. Along the way they wind up teaching themselves far more effectively that I can teach them.

I have a particularly onorous assignment I give my classes, challenging them to be the first one to get all of the answers correct. I tell them to use whatever resources they have available to them and then I retreat to my office.

In most of my classes there will be one or two students who figure out that I am one of the resources they have to work with and they track me down. I answer all the questions they put to me – but then I tell them that I have purposely given them some incorrect information. Word invariably leaks that I’m willing to help, so all of them ultimately come to find me.

What follows is a frenzy of fact-checking as they try to find which information I’ve given them is inaccurate. They emerge as subject matter experts. Meanwhile I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on my backlogged emails.

The best part is that I don’t actually give them bad information at all. Yes, it’s a teeny bit evil, but a lot of fun.

I don’t teach math, and my students are all self-motivated adults – so I’m not entirely sure this is relevant to a proper classroom – but there you go.

]]>Thanks, Pat, Very nicely written.

I would ask what areas of mathematics the participants involved in this dialogue are associated with as my years of experience with mathematicians, scientists, computer scientists and engineers from a wide range of Universities around the world convinces me that we too often only hear from one side in this debate about what math professors see, hear and want from students. I have a colleague who every Fall would call me and complain that despite the A’s on their transcripts the students he is getting in for his PhD program cannot think, problem solve or create… what is wrong with the math programs they are in….? So where does he fit at this roundtable discussion? ]]>