Tag Archives: general education

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.