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Old 01-30-2019, 09:10 PM
 
124 posts, read 46,589 times
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So I am studying algebra. I have a quick question with those people who done college math and beyond. When studying, or doing homework, should I figure it out on my own, or should I ask for help to get the answer faster and save time?


This is where I am stuck. I can figure out a problem but it takes me 20 minutes for one problem. My other option is asking for assistance solving the problem, and then I can try a similar problem on my own, which is less time than doing all this on my own. I figured me figuring it out teaches me problem solving skills, but someone walking me though, I can still learn by trying similar problems, but I feel like I am cheating in a way.

Whats the best option of the two? I would think problem solving on my own if I have the time, but if I dont, get the answer to the problem and try similar problems.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:26 PM
 
11,471 posts, read 4,170,227 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike2017 View Post
So I am studying algebra. I have a quick question with those people who done college math and beyond. When studying, or doing homework, should I figure it out on my own, or should I ask for help to get the answer faster and save time?


This is where I am stuck. I can figure out a problem but it takes me 20 minutes for one problem. My other option is asking for assistance solving the problem, and then I can try a similar problem on my own, which is less time than doing all this on my own. I figured me figuring it out teaches me problem solving skills, but someone walking me though, I can still learn by trying similar problems, but I feel like I am cheating in a way.

Whats the best option of the two? I would think problem solving on my own if I have the time, but if I dont, get the answer to the problem and try similar problems.
Both.

Figure it out on your own and then learn other methods, They are generally simple to understand after you have battled your way through.

Understanding the problem is most important. Than learn how those who who have worked the problem hard do it.

And understanding is important...not mechanically solving the problem.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:40 PM
 
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I would repeat what LVMENSCH said. and add that the problems in the book examples are usually very easy and the early problems in a homework list should - all things considered - be able to be figured out from the book, provided they show a few examples.

A pet peeve from my days long ago in high school was that the instructors would go over the easy stuff that is already in the book but not go over the most difficult homework problems to show what those extra concepts or 'bridge' thought processes necessary to solve the more complex problem.

So, my advice would be to plug away at the simplest problems and even do extra to be comfortable learning the basic concepts yourself but to always ask your instructor or tutor to go over the difficult problems with you to fill in the information the book won't show you. Also you can try some online explanations as it may be the instructor you have is not the best at conveying mathematical concepts in a variety of ways.


A lot of concepts (and things in life in general) take time to learn for most everyone. The better you understand it the more confident you willl be on testing and using as the concepts build upon each other as you progress. Probably the best the thing you will learn from math - even if you don't use it in an occupation (but algebra has many everyday applications to being a good consumer, finding per unit cost as one example) is the discipline to think through the process of something even if sometimes it seems extraneous.

Last edited by ciceropolo; 01-30-2019 at 09:44 PM.. Reason: additional for clarity
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Old 01-30-2019, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
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When you get help for the problems, do you feel like you understand the math better, or do you feel like you know what motions to go through? If someone explaining the problem to you helps you understand it better, then the help is a good thing--much better than beating your head against a wall, so to speak, while you're waiting for a light bulb moment.

Not all teachers are good at teaching. If you still feel like you're cheating by having someone else help you, see if you can find a different text or some videos on Youtube on solving algebra problems.
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Old 01-30-2019, 11:12 PM
 
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As others have said it's a bit of both. Sometimes study groups help where you each teach one another. You learn from others in the group and in turn you learn more by showing them. The important thing is to actually understand how to work the problem and not just copying the answer from someone else. Group learning is not generally considered cheating (though some schools have stricter rules than others) so long as you are doing the work yourself. In fact many of the professors I had over they years encouraged study groups.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ciceropolo View Post
..A pet peeve from my days long ago in high school was that the instructors would go over the easy stuff that is already in the book but not go over the most difficult homework problems to show what those extra concepts or 'bridge' thought processes necessary to solve the more complex problem.
....
I'd love to put that in bright flashing lights. It was so frustrating when they would spend the entire class, or the book would spend page and pages, explaining basically 2+2=4. Then you get to the homework and it's more like "derive Schrodinger's Equation." The most dreaded words in any textbook are "the solution of this problem is so simple it will be left as an exercise for the student."

Translated that means "We have no clue how to solve this problem but figure a beginning student can knock it out in five minutes."
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Old 01-30-2019, 11:51 PM
 
11,471 posts, read 4,170,227 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
As others have said it's a bit of both. Sometimes study groups help where you each teach one another. You learn from others in the group and in turn you learn more by showing them. The important thing is to actually understand how to work the problem and not just copying the answer from someone else. Group learning is not generally considered cheating (though some schools have stricter rules than others) so long as you are doing the work yourself. In fact many of the professors I had over they years encouraged study groups.




I'd love to put that in bright flashing lights. It was so frustrating when they would spend the entire class, or the book would spend page and pages, explaining basically 2+2=4. Then you get to the homework and it's more like "derive Schrodinger's Equation." The most dreaded words in any textbook are "the solution of this problem is so simple it will be left as an exercise for the student."

Translated that means "We have no clue how to solve this problem but figure a beginning student can knock it out in five minutes."
Actually when we got to the hard stuff in engineering school many of us would not have survived if it were not for the group learning. And many of the professors correctly encouraged that. Even one final was a group activity though we each had to document and explain it personally.

So if you got a good group use it. Very helpful.
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Old Yesterday, 01:08 AM
 
124 posts, read 46,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheerbliss View Post
When you get help for the problems, do you feel like you understand the math better, or do you feel like you know what motions to go through? If someone explaining the problem to you helps you understand it better, then the help is a good thing--much better than beating your head against a wall, so to speak, while you're waiting for a light bulb moment.

Not all teachers are good at teaching. If you still feel like you're cheating by having someone else help you, see if you can find a different text or some videos on Youtube on solving algebra problems.
So cheat based on the comments. I been cheating since middle school, when lazy I would just ask the instructor or other students for help on how to do a few different problems and just figure it out based on that. I dont recall reading the book thoroughly, just scanning and looking for key terminology that can help me solve a certain problem. I feel I can pick up the concepts pretty good when others explain them, I just wonder if I am cheating myself, that is all.
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Old Yesterday, 05:43 AM
 
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Well, you know, "help" can just mean someone besides the instructor. I remember in a class on circuit analysis I was struggling - I think it had to do with phase angles, but I don't remember the specifics now 35 years later - but anyway, after class I told one of my classmates and he just sat down right there in the lecture hall and in 5 or 10 minutes explained how to solve the problems, in a slightly and subtly different way than the professor, and I got it right then. We went through a couple problems together and I had no problems after that.
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Old Yesterday, 07:58 AM
 
6,158 posts, read 3,298,469 times
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No it's not cheating to have someone or several someone show you how to do the material. Different people explain the same thing different ways. Its only cheating if instead of learning you are merely going to them for the answer. Learning how is good. Copying the answer us bad.
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Old Yesterday, 08:09 AM
 
2,603 posts, read 3,150,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvmensch View Post
Actually when we got to the hard stuff in engineering school many of us would not have survived if it were not for the group learning. And many of the professors correctly encouraged that. Even one final was a group activity though we each had to document and explain it personally.

So if you got a good group use it. Very helpful.
^^This exactly. When you get into the upper level math and engineering classes, you will find that group collaboration opens your eyes to different thinking and methods. It will help you grasp and understand concepts better. When you get stuck, there is often someone that can help you understand the part you are struggling with but they get stuck on a different part that you may understand.

Use the resources available to you to help understand the problem. Don't just get through the homework and try to get the right answer. Learn the principles and when you take the tests, you will be able to work through the problems.

I will give you a tip in case you haven't figured it out yet. Math teachers love to use the example problems that are worked out in your text book that they do not cover in class as test problems. Since many students never go through all the samples, they often never realize the hardest problem on the test was worked out in their text book and all they would have had to do is read the book and go through the problem. They also like to use the problems that they did not assign as homework which are often problems that are in a solutions manual you can buy. So it pays to go through all the problems in the text book before you take a test. This is true from elementary school all the way through college. In college, they will also pull problems from their prior tests that came from a previous textbook. All the problems you will encounter on tests are out there for you to find and understand. The question is how dedicated and determined are you?
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