OpenLab Assignment #5: Advice for the future

Assignment (due Monday, July 2nd).  Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 1272, to give advice to entering students.  Write a paragraph responding to one of the following, describing what you would tell them.

  1. What do you wish that you had been told at the start of this class, to help you succeed?
  2. Choose one topic in the course that is especially challenging. Identify it, and give advice to students trying to master that topic.
  3. What is the most important prior knowledge (not taught in the class) that you need in order to succeed?  Why is it important?
  4. Would you recommend taking the class in the summertime?  Why or why not?

Extra Credit.¬† Respond to someone else’s comment. ¬†Do you agree? disagree? Have anything to add?

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OpenLab Assignment #4: Take a break

You have no OpenLab assignment this weekend – use the time to catch up on other work and study for the exam.

Extra credit.¬† Tell me what music you like.¬† What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?¬† I’m listening to Parov Stelar (“compulsively listenable electroswing”) and¬†Aesop Rock¬†(“inaccessible¬†hiphop intelligentsia”). ¬†A few ground rules: ¬†No offensive lyrics, be considerate of others, feel free to include a link but only to a legal site such as YouTube or SoundCloud.

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OpenLab Assignment #3: Math in your future?

Most people go to college because they are trying to build a better future for themselves.  What job do you hope to get after college?  Imagine you have completed your college degree, and your education and experience have allowed you to obtain the job that you want.

With this job in mind, consider the following list of activities.  Which of them are you most likely to be asked to do as part of your new job?  Put them in order from most likely to least likely.  If you are uncertain, make your best guess based on your current knowledge and experience.

List of activities:

  1. Use a formula (correctly identify values, substitute them into the formula, and simplify the result to get an answer).
  2. Learn to use a computer system that is unfamiliar to you, and then complete a task on that system.
  3. Brainstorm a variety of responses to a problem and decide among several solutions, each of which has plusses and minuses.
  4. Make a decision based on data (for example: a list of responses to a survey, a list of numbers, a table, or chart)
  5. Calculate the mean or standard deviation.
  6. Complete an assignment with a team of several people, including: finding a time and place to meet, dividing responsibilities, making sure everyone is completing their part, delivering the final product on time.

Assignment (due midnight, Wednesday, June 20):

Respond to the above activity by leaving a comment in response to this post.  Your comment should include all of the following:

  1. What is your major?  What job are you hoping to get after graduation?
  2. From the list of activities above, give your ranking in order from¬†“most likely to be required on your new job”¬†to¬†“least likely”¬†(you can just list the numbers in order, you do not have to type the description, like this: ¬†“My ranking is: ¬†5, 2, 3, 4, 1, 6”).
  3. Discuss the first item or two on your list.  Do you think that this class will help prepare you to complete that task?  If so, how?  If not, what could be done in this class to help prepare you for that task?
  4. Discuss the last item or two on your list.  Do you think it is important to learn (even if you are not likely to use it at your job)?  Why or why not?

Extra Credit.¬† Comment on ¬†someone else’s post. ¬† Do you agree or disagree? Why?

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Exam #2 Review is posted

The second exam will take place on Monday, June 18th. ¬†The review sheet (and answer key) are posted on the¬†Handouts¬†page. ¬†I’ve included a .pdf version of the file for those who have had trouble with the Word .doc. ¬†If you find an error or have a question, post a comment here or send me an email.

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OpenLab Assignment #2: What does this have to do with anything?

One of the standard arguments for the importance of math (which you have no doubt heard) is that mathematics “is used to describe the world around us.” ¬†However, our current model of mathematics education doesn’t often lend support to this argument. ¬†When you’re sitting at home with your book, struggling with a set of abstract, repetitive exercises, it’s hard to see how this stuff is relevant to anything¬†outside of math class itself.

Assignment (Due Wednesday, June 13th, midnight).  Choose ONE of the videos below.  View it carefully at least twice, then write a response as follows:

  1. At the top of your response, state your name and the name of the video you chose.
  2. Write a paragraph in which you complete each of the following sentences, explaining in your own words.
    1. “The main idea is…”
    2. “One thing that I liked is…”
    3. “One thing that I didn’t like is…”
  3. What does this video have to do with this class (if anything)?  Why in the world would it appear here?  Explain.


  1. Vi Hart, blogger and self-proclaimed mathemusician,¬†on¬†“Doodling in Math Class: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant.” ¬†(alternate link)
  2. Hans Rosling, pioneer of data visualization, speaking on “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes.” (alternate link)

Extra credit.¬† Comment on someone else’s post – do you agree? Disagree? Why? ¬†Anything to add?

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Exam #1 Review Sheet is posted

Note: If you’re looking for the “Welcome and Getting Started” message that used to be here, just scroll down — it’s near the bottom of the page.

The review sheet for Exam #1 (together with answer key) is posted on the Handouts page.  If you find an error or have a question, post a comment here or send me an email.

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Getting started with WileyPLUS

Homework for this class will be completed on the WileyPLUS website, here:

How do I register? Do I have to pay for it?

WileyPLUS is not free, BUT it is included in the purchase of your textbook.  You have two choices:

  1. $101.35 option¬†(Textbook and WileyPLUS). Buy a new copy of¬†the textbook at the CityTech bookstore. ¬†With it, you will receive a card containing a registration code for WileyPLUS. ¬†Go to the website and select “Create an Account” — you will be asked for your registration code partway through the process.
  2. $75.00 option (WileyPLUS only, with online textbook).¬†You can use WileyPLUS instead of buying the textbook. ¬†WileyPLUS includes ¬†an online version of the textbook, so you will have access to all the same material as someone who buys the book. ¬†To take advantage of this option, go directly to the website and click “Create an Account” – you will be given the option to purchase ¬†WileyPLUS partway through the registration process.


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OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

This assignment is due Wednesday evening, April 6th (midnight).

Assignment.  Choose ONE of the following two topics.  Write a reply to this post, responding to the topic (1-2 paragraphs).  Begin by telling us which topic you chose.  Be sure to include your name in the post (so I can give you credit).


  1. Was math ever your favorite subject? If so, when was it? What about math made it your favorite? If math has never been your favorite subject, what about it do you not like?
  2. Sometimes people can recognize a time when their opinion of math dramatically changed either for the better or the worse. If such a time happened for you or for a friend of yours, tell about it. If you did not experience such a thing, tell about your steady feelings about mathematics.

Extra Credit. ¬†For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments. ¬†Do you feel the same? ¬†Did you learn anything? ¬†Do you have any advice?

Why are we doing this, anyway?¬† Having progressed this far in your school career, you are familiar with many of the tools for learning math:¬†¬†studying, practicing by doing problems, asking questions when you need help, and so on. ¬†I’d like to talk about two activities that may NOT seem related to learning math — but research shows that engaging in these activities can¬†dramatically¬†increase the amount that you learn, and change the way you learn it. ¬†The first is¬†writing¬†— something not typically associated with mathematics. ¬†When you express your ideas in words, it forces you to think them through very carefully, detail by detail. ¬†A great way to check and see if you really understand something is to try to explain it to someone else, either out loud or in writing. ¬†Example: if you know how to add fractions, try teaching it someone who doesn’t know how. ¬†The second is called¬†metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.” ¬†This happens when you think about what was going on in your head while you were working on a problem or trying to learn a new idea. ¬†What train of thought did you follow? ¬†Where did you get stuck, and what did you do next? ¬†What were you feeling at the time? and so on. ¬†Combining writing and metacognition can be a tremendously powerful tool in identifying the ways we learn best and the ways we make mistakes, and learning to improve. ¬†However, like any skill, it takes practice. ¬†That’s why we’re getting started by writing a little about our past experiences with mathematics.

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Welcome and Getting Started

This course is MAT 1272, Statistics, taking place in the Summer 2012 semester with Professor Reitz.  We will be using this website in several different ways Рas a central location for information about the course (assignments, review sheets, policies, and so on), a place to ask and answer questions, to post examples of our work, and to talk about statistics, education, reality and other false premises.

Getting Started

Take a look around and familiarize yourself with the site. ¬†Use the links at the top of the page (in the black bar just underneath the cool picture) to navigate around — there isn’t too much here, yet. ¬†Your first OpenLab assignment is due on Wednesday (OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography) — you can also click the “Assignments” link above. ¬†Your first WileyPLUS homework assignment is due on Monday – see Getting Started With WileyPLUS for details.

Do I need to register?

Short answer: No. ¬†Anyone on the internet can look around the site and see what we are doing, and even leave a comment on one of the pages, and these are the only things that will be required of you during this class. ¬†However, registering has benefits: ¬†you will receive automatic emails when new assignments and other items are posted, and the process of leaving comments and asking questions requires a little less work (you don’t have to keep entering your name etc each time you comment).

If I want to register, how do I do it?

To register, you must be a CityTech student with a citytech email address.  You will need to do two things:

  1. If you have not used the openlab before, you must first create an account (you will need access to your¬†citytech email address¬†for this). ¬†Detailed instructions can be found by following¬†this link¬†to the help pages, finding the “Especially For Students” section about halfway down the page,¬†and then looking at the first link “Getting Started with the OpenLab and Joining Your Courses.”
  2. Once you have created an account on the openlab, log in and then join this particular course. ¬†To do this, go to the main course page, (or click the “Course Profile” link at the top left of this page), and click the “Join Now” link on the right side of the screen.
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Header Image

The header image is titled “Self-Description” and comes from the web comic XKCD. ¬†I chose it in part because I appreciate the accurate use of various types of graphs to represent different information (or different views on the same information), but mostly I love the sly, mind-bendingly self-referential nature of the thing.

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