M.A.T.H. Tips: Vol. 15

Finals are Coming! Tips for Your Students

It’s that time of year again. Finals are approaching! Besides studying, there are some other important strategies students can use to increase their chance of success on these cumulative exams. Sharing these strategies with your students can help them not only in your math classes, but their other classes as well.

  1. Know your exam characteristics
    • Multiple choice, free response?
    • Paper and pencil, computer?
    • How many questions?
    • How much time?
  2. Know your exam grading scheme
    • Will items be equally weighted?
      • If no, do higher point values first
    • Is partial credit available?
  3. Know your exam content
    • Does the exam cover all chapters or just part of the course (for example, since the midterm?
    • Are all items on the final problem types that appeared on previous tests?
    • Is there a study guide, sample exam, or previous exam available?
  4. Know your exam materials
    • Can any references be used such as notes, book, formula card, tables?
    • Can a calculator be used?
    • Is the test on a Scantron where specific pencils are needed?
    • Is any type of ruler, protractor, compass, etc. needed?

Watch, Read, Listen & Shop: Lighten Up Over Break

Watch:  Snuggle up with a cup of tea and watch these lighthearted mystery shows.

  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – a delightful, easy to watch show set in the 1920’s. Follow the adventurous Phryne Fisher as she elegantly helps the local, dashing, detective solve Brisbane’s most troublesome crimes.
  • Murdoch Mysteries – Follow Detective Inspector William Murdoch as he solves 1895 Toronto’s crimes using cutting edge scientific reasoning aided by the the intelligent and comely coroner Dr. Julia Ogden.




Math Career Spotlight: Michael LaMarca

What is your current job/career?

Technical Operations Manager at Sunnova Energy Corp.

I am responsible for the the energy simulation and monitoring of over 43,000 residential solar systems.

How do you use math or mathematical problem solving in your work? How does your math background help you in your job?

I do a tremendous amount of data analysis and mathematical modeling so my math background is definitely used in those areas. I feel my math training really helps me in asking and answering the correct questions that address business needs.

What motivated you to study math?

I originally studied physics but became very interested in nonlinear dynamics and optimization and realized I would need a deeper math background in order to fully understand those areas.

What would you say to a student who is thinking about studying math but doesn’t want a typical teaching career?

I think studying math is excellent for many career paths as it develops deep critical reasoning skills and problem solving that can be used in a lot of different roles. The downside is that you will have to explain how those skills fit into a job more than someone with a more specific degree such as electrical engineering or finance.

Other advice or comments?

Learn computer programming, as it is an invaluable skill and the only way to reasonably analyze large data sets.

Michael LaMarca’s LinkedIn Profile

Burnout- Busters:  Holiday Break Refresher

Winter break can be hard, we go from the chaos of the end of the semester right into the December Holidays and preparation for the spring. Here are a few suggestions to help refresh and relax.

  • Give yourself a day free of “shoulds” – We all have a list of things we “should” be doing, instead put aside that list and take a day to do something for yourself –  binge watch a TV show, have a snowball fight with your kids, read that book you’ve been putting off.  All the things we should do will still be there tomorrow.
  • Get in touch with the outside – Research shows that just a few minutes of being outside among natural environments or listening to nature sounds can help the mind de-stress.  If you can get outside even a short walk in a park, or bird watching can help calm the nervous system. And if you are stuck indoors, you can find a host of nature sounds online that you can stream.
  • Try a massage – Massages are often thought of an indulgence and extravagant. But in fact there are a variety of options ranging from a simple foot or shoulder massage to full body that are inexpensive and can help us relax without spending several hours and breaking the bank.  Look for local massage schools offering discounted massages by students in training, massage chains offering holiday specials, and Groupons by local massage therapists.

December Prep for Spring

We share great advice to our students about time management and preparation, here we tweak that advice to help YOU prepare for the spring semester.

  • Spring Clean in December.  To prep for the new year and a new semester go through the accumulation of papers.  Use the three pile method: shred, must keep, and recycle.  Each department has a timeline for keeping student work. Know your timeline and discard each semester as appropriate. This helps keep your office clutter free and frees up space.
  • Pre-prep syllabi and other first day materials – If you know what classes you will be teaching in the spring, take a moment at the end of fall semester to prepare your syllabi.  Having all documents ready when you return from break can help ease you into the next semester.
  • Take a moment to reflect – Take a moment to think about what went right, what went wrong, what surprised you.  Identifying points of change when they are clear in our mind can help us improve in the future. Several digital platforms offer reports to review the most challenging learning objectives, most missed questions, and test-item analysis so you can review which homework, reading and test items may need revisions based on student responses.

AMATYC 2017 Recap

On November 9-12th the 43rd Annual Conference for the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges was held in San Diego, CA. The Conference theme was, “Have a Prime Time.” The mission of AMATYC is “To provide high quality professional development, to advocate and collaborate at all levels, and to build communities of learners for all involved in mathematics education in the first two years of college.”

The conference featured an opening keynote by Scott Adamson of Chandler-Gilbert CC,  Is It 1957 or 2017? The keynote wrapped up with an original song (based on Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire) that is not to be missed. The keynote begins at about minute 48 in the video and the song at 1 hr 25 in the link below.


The conference proceedings are available at: https://amatyc.site-ym.com/page/2017ConfProc

The next conference is November 15-18, 2018 in Orlando, FL. https://amatyc.site-ym.com/?page=2018ConfHome

Proposals for the conference are now being accepted and there is a link within the above page to submit a proposal.