Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The 50-minute class period is dead

Welcome to Fall 2007 semester, our first term under the compressed calendar system. When the faculty voted in favor of trimming a week and half from the 18-week semester, it became necessary to lengthen class periods to make up for the lost time. Under the old system, a 5-unit class usually met daily for 18 weeks. That's a total of 5 × 18 = 90 class hours. A normal class "hour" is 50 minutes, so we end up with 90 × 50 = 4500 minutes. We have to fit those minutes into 16.5 weeks.

One more complication: Most classes under the compressed calendar are offered on only two- or four-day schedules. Daily classes are now few. Class periods must be longer to make up for both fewer weeks and fewer days. My Math 100 class this semester meets four days a week, Monday through Thursday, from 7:00 till 8:05, a 65-minutes period. The total number of minutes for the compressed semester is 16.5 × 4 × 65 = 4290. That turns out to be just over 95% of the usual 4500 minutes, which is enough to comply with state education requirements. We will recover some additional time because fewer class meetings should mean less time lost to settling down at the beginning or packing up at the end.

The compressed calendar is full of challenges, making it more difficult to create schedules that fit together neatly. Take careful note of the beginning and ending times of your classes, because these vary significantly from what they used to be.

Good luck with your classes in this semester of experimentation.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer session 2007: Welcome to Math 402

In some ways, Calculus III is a re-run of Calculus I (derivatives) and Calculus II (integrals). We are going to differentiate and integrate functions again, but this time in higher dimensions. Instead of limiting ourselves to functions of one variable, as we did in the past, we are going to deal with functions that have two or three (or more) variables. Calculus III will therefore involve familiar operation, but in unfamiliar contexts. Your basic differentiation and antidifferentiation skills will be employed in new and more realistic situations. In particular, physics students will recognize that many of our Calculus III theorems relate directly to discoveries in electromagnetism and the properties of gravitation.

You have access to several sources of assistance. One is ARC's own Learning Resource Center, where tutors help students with their problems. Unfortunately, we have relatively few tutors who are able to provide much help with Calculus III, so it may be difficult to get the assistance you need. You can click the sidebar entry for our Larson/Hostetler/Edwards calculus text to access the student aids provided by the publisher, which include www.CalcChat.com and on-line practice exams for each chapter. You should also try out http://Hotmath.com, for which I have an access code that I'll be sharing with the class.

If you lose your syllabus, you can download a pdf copy from this website. Click on the appropriate sidebar link.

As part of your Quiz 0 assignment, you have read this blog entry and now you need to send your instructor an e-mail message. Either click on the sidebar where is says “about Math 402” or write me directly, but don't forget to include Math 402 in the subject line. (That's something you should do for all messages you send me about the class this summer.)

Good luck!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spring 2007 final exam schedule

I have worked out my schedule during this semester's finals. If you can't see the image clearly enough, just click on it. I may be around at times other than the listed office hours, so don't hesitate to stop by my office in Howard Hall if you're on campus. If you need to talk to me when I'm not at school, you can always e-mail me at barcela@arc.losrios.edu.