Math 140 - Modeling with Calculus - Fall 2012
Advice for working on your project
- Begin today. Read the entire project to see what it
involves. Don’t worry too much about details at first, just get
the big picture, particularly about what is required. Start to
think about your preferences for teammates, and communicate those
preferences to your instructor. Do it now!
- Begin to acquaint yourself with the issues involved on the very
day the project is assigned. Look into at least one of the issues
in some detail.
- To do a good job (and get a good grade), you will need all the time you
have been given (almost two weeks!). Do not fool yourself into
thinking you can turn out an acceptable job in one or two nights’
work. Many students have failed to heed this warning, but know
that That Way Lies Sorrow.
- Immediately after groups are assigned, meet
to discuss the work you’ve already started. Make sure your group
members share a clear understanding about what’s expected – list
details, not just vague ideas like “it’s got to be really good.”
- You may wish to divide up the work, if that’s
possible, but make sure every group member understands everything in
the final report. It’s your grade we’re talking about here, so
make sure you understand what’s being turned in with your name on it.
- If you do divide the work, you must work as a team
to assemble the parts. Otherwise your report will seem like a
Frankenstein’s monster of ill-fitting parts, rather than the single,
beautiful example of clarity that you want.
- By starting early and thinking about your project
a little each day, insight into the problem has some time to
ripen. Ideas will come to you at surprising times, but only if
you start early.
- Writing: This is new for many students –
formal writing on a math or science topic. Do not fall into the
trap of assuming it will come without effort. There are two main
tips to help you with this challenge:
- Start writing as soon as you have partial
results. Write up each step or part of your project as soon as
you complete it. Groups very often have forgotten how they did
something by the time they start writing, and then they have to figure
it out all over again. Write while you still remember!
Remember, “Your explanation and presentation are as important as the
mathematics.” Wording that explanation will be harder than you
think, so start early.
- Have your report finished at least two days before
the final due date. Then, perhaps after half a day away from it,
carefully re-read both the assignment and your report. Do they
match up? Many groups forget some project requirement by the time
they have finished writing. Others fail to edit their report and
leave it full of awful grammar errors or gaps in the explanation that
could be caught by carefully reading through.
Confused about something? Ask your
instructor. Starting early allows you more time to get helpful
advice! We are happy to guide you, but we can’t be much help if
you see us for the first time the day the project is due.
These projects are often posed as professional
reports to help you adopt a suitable attitude toward their
importance. Take as much pride in your report as you would if you
were writing it for an employer on whom you wish to make a favorable
Last Modified Sept. 19, 2012.
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