Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Long division 

So we're doing polynomial long division in the algebra class today. And I'm absolutely amazed by how many students have some bizarre resistance to writing down the change of signs when they subtract polynomials.
Them: Do we have to change the signs.

Me: Yes, otherwise, you'll make mistakes and get the problem wrong.

Them: No we won't

Me: Maybe not, but my experience has been that if you don't do it this way, you'll make mistakes.

And of course when we do these in class, they don't do it that way, and sure enough, they make mistakes. And to each and every one, I point out the mistake and tell them that if they had followed my directions, they wouldn't make those mistakes.

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