Category Archives: Assignments

OpenLab #4: Advice for the future

(Due Thursday, 5/22/14, at the start of class).  Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 2680, to give advice to entering students.  Write at least three sentences responding to one or two 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?

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

OpenLab #2: Feedback on the course

We are currently in the eighth week of the semester.  For this OpenLab assignment, I am asking you to provide some feedback on your experience of the course so far.

Assignment (Due Thursday, March 26th, at the start of class).  Your assignment consists of two parts:

  1. Complete the survey by clicking here.  The survey consists of 10 questions, and should take 5-10 minutes to complete.  It is anonymous (I will see the answers, but I will not know who submitted them).
  2. Confirm that you have completed the survey by leaving a comment in reply to this post (for example, you could just write “I completed the survey just now”).

Extra Credit. ¬†Tell me what music you are listening to these days. ¬†What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? ¬†Give us a brief description. ¬†I’m listening to Parov Stelar (‚Äúcompulsively listenable electroswing‚ÄĚ) and¬†Shpongle (“a unique concoction of lounge driven downtempo encased in an endless sphere of production”). ¬†¬†¬†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.

OpenLab Assignment 1: General Education

This assignment is due Thursday, February 13, at the start of class.

The¬†Syllabus¬†for the course lists 8 different “Learning Outcomes” (they appear near the bottom of the¬†Course Information¬†page). ¬†These are the things that we’d like you all to get out of the course. ¬†They ¬†are split into two groups – there are four Learning Outcomes that are directly related to Differential Equations, and then four General Education Learning Outcomes that are not specific to Differential Equations but nonetheless are important elements of this course. ¬†In this assignment I’m going to ask you to focus on the Gen Ed Learning Outcomes.

Assignment. ¬†¬†Choose one of the four Gen Ed Learning Outcomes for the class (they are listed below). ¬† Write a comment in reply to this post (click “Leave a Reply” below), responding to EACH of the following. Write 1-2 paragraphs total. ¬†Begin by telling us which topic you chose.

  1. Copy the Learning Outcome word-for-word.
  2. Explain what you think it means in your own words.
  3. Describe a time that you have used this skill in your past.
  4. Do you think this skill will be important in your career? Why or why not?


  1. Gather, interpret, evaluate, and apply information discerningly from a variety of sources.

  2. Understand and employ both quantitative and qualitative analysis to solve problems.

  3. Employ scientific reasoning and logical thinking.

  4. Communicate effectively.

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

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 and our ideas about the future.

1 Week Extension to deadline for WeBWorK Assignment #1-Modeling-IVPs

Hi everyone,

I realize that many of you are struggling to complete the first two WeBWorK assignments by the due date of this evening at midnight. ¬†For a number of reasons, I’m giving a one-time extension on the deadline for Assignment #1 ONLY. ¬†It will now be due next Tuesday, Feb 12, at midnight.

NOTE: Assignment #0 is still due tonight.

  • What are the reasons? ¬†It’s the first assignment, so you are grappling with learning WeBWorK, you are sorting out problems with your logins/passwords on the system, and you are trying to remember how to do basic integrations from Calc II. ¬†That’s a lot! ¬†I’d rather you take a little more time, then simply not complete it.
  • Will I regret this? Maybe.
  • Will I ever do it again? No way!

Best regards,
Prof. Reitz