Survey of Mathematics

Welcome to Students

What does this math course have to offer?
Survey of Mathematics is designed to impart a basic understanding of mathematics topics including problem solving, sets, logic, functions, numeration systems, the real number system, consumer mathematics, the metric system, and geometry. Many of your classmates will be majoring in elementary education, and their program requires that they take this course. Hence you will benefit from the feedback and reflection of peers who already have experience adapting the content of this course to younger audiences as part of their student-teaching practicum.
What are some skills that I can take from this class?
  1. Improved critical thinking skills
  2. Ability to apply logic to decision making and spatial reasoning
  3. Knowledge of our number system and its algebraic properties
  4. Understanding of probability, statistics, and financial math
What do I need to succeed in this class?
To succeed in this course, you will need to practice and reflect on your reading and class notes, on average eight hours a week and preferably with study partners whom you meet in lecture. Make sure you read actively, with pen or pencil in hand and a dedicated math notebook ready for jotting down the key ideas and questions that the text leaves unaddressed. After you think you understand a new concept from all possible angles, attempt to solve the end-of-section exercises without referring to the example problems in the text.

Notes for Teachers

How does this course compare with the 9-credit sequence developed specifically for elementary education majors?
In one semester I found it challenging to treat every topic in as much depth as an elementary educator should see. The fresh perspective on algebra and the relevance of consumer mathematics led to positive student feedback and observable learning gains, but the overly brief treatment of geometry, probability, and statistics resulted in obvious confusion and unsatisfactory student learning. If you have three semesters with your elementary education students, I expect you'll do much better getting them to the point where you'd feel comfortable entrusting them with your children's early math education.
Which textbooks have you used for this course, and what did you find strong or weak in each one?
The first semester I used Angel's Survey of Mathematics With Applications. The authors seem to focus more on preparing students to solve prescribed types of problems than on preparing them to approach unfamiliar scenarios with a habit of seeking the relevant mathematical questions. The next semester I switched to Jacob's Mathematics: A Human Endeavor, which I thought did a better job of conveying the spirit of inquiry-based learning appropriate to this type of course.