Instructor: Kelly A. MacArthur
Class Time and Place:11:50 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.
Wednesdays in LCB121
Office Hours: Mondays 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Tuesdays 2:00-5:00 p.m,
Wednesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., Fridays 2:00-5:00 p.m. or by appointment.
Office Location: JWB226
Office Phone Number: 581-6837
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Text: There is no official text for this course. There will be articles to read and homework that will be uploaded to my website regularly.
Computer Lab: also in the T. Benny Rushing Mathematics Student Center, Rm 155C.
M – Th 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
F 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Link to computer lab
Grading: The grades will be calculated as follows:
Math Journal 20%
Practice Exams 20%
Attendance and Full Participation in class 40%
Background/Course Need: Mathemaphobia was coined by Mary
Gough in 1954, as she discovered many of her math students were
struggling with this phenomenon. She claimed the term itself
was self-explanatory. Math anxiety was a term coined in the
mid 1970s and is defined as feelings of tension and anxiety
that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving
of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and
academic situations. (Tobias, S., 1993, Overcoming Math
Anxiety. New York: W. W. Norton & Company). Marilyn Burns, a
leading mathematics education expert, in her book Math: Facing
an American Phobia (1998), contends that two thirds of
American adults loathe and fear mathematics. And, as reported
in the book Overcoming Math Anxiety (Sheila Tobias, 1978,
1993, 2nd edition), in 600 interviews with college students,
Tobias found three significant variables that stunted the
students' ability to succeed in college-level mathematics
courses, with the leading cause being a fear of mathematics.
Course Description: This course is designed for the
mathematics student who either suffers from a self-reported case
of mathemaphobia or is simply interested in understanding the
phenomenon to better teach mathematics. Through
self-reflection, practice of mathematics skills, practice of
test-taking skills, reading research papers on this topic, and
in-class exercises & discussion designed to challenge the
negative thought process surrounding mathematics, students will
gain confidence, understanding and problem-solving skills.
Teaching Philosophy: I believe strongly that
mathematics, at its core, is the art/experience/science of
problem solving and pattern recognition. It is inherently a
creative process, one to be struggled with, repeated, and
enjoyed. The process requires imagination, persistence,
courage, processing time, and ultimately produces experiential,
mathematical skill. It is from this perspective that I teach.
I'm not as concerned with the destination, i.e. the answer, as I
am about the journey of problem-solving and mathematical
exploration since it is exactly the entirety of the journey that
creates the answer. And, self-confidence and mastery are then
natural by-products of the mathematical journey.
Attendance: As you can see, a large part of your grade is
based on your attendance for all classes. I expect you to be
there and participate every day. This policy is in place so you
can maximize the benefit from this class. The grading scale for
this category will be as follows: 100% == no or one excused
absence, 90% == two or three excused absences, 80% == four or
five excused absences, 70% == six or seven excused absences, 0%
== more than seven excused absences. For every unexcused
absence, you will get deducted 10 percentage points for this
portion of the grade.
Math Journal: You will be required to keep a journal of
your thoughts regarding mathematics. Every week, I will provide
a seed or article for thought or pose a question that you will
reflect on and write about. Your typed reflections will be
submitted to me in class every week, and will be somewhere
between 1 to 2 pages long, depending on how much you feel you
need to write to thoroughly explore the question/thought.
Although I will check for grammar or typing errors, when grading
the papers, I will be most focused on the thoughtfulness and
authenticity of your responses. These reflections are meant to
provide personal insight into your own mathemaphobia and the
journal will likely be the most meaningful feature of this course for you.
POWs: POW stands for Problem of the Week. I will
assign a POW in every class, and give some time to work on this
in small groups and as a whole class. These problems will be
mathematical in nature, but available to all levels of
mathematical skill. Some examples would be logic puzzles or
story problems that require very basic algebra skills. You will
be required to turn your written solution in, as a group, at the
end of the class, after we've all discussed the many ways it was
solved by various students. The intent of the POW is to provide
you with important practice in your mathematical thinking and
thereby increase your mathematical knowledge base, your
self-confidence and challenge your negative thinking process regarding mathematics.
Practice Exams: Since many students who suffer from
mathemaphobia also report much difficulty with test-taking, I
will give two practice exams throughout the semester. We will
discuss successful math test-taking strategies and then you will
have the chance to practice your skills. The level of these
exams will be the same level as the POWs, so the material will be available to all students.
WebCT: I will put your grades online on WebCT.
You can get there easily from the main University of Utah website www.utah.edu.
(There's also a link from my website.) To log in, you use the same student id
and password that you use for Campus Information System. I do my best to
update the grades on a regular basis and keep everything accurate.
However, I would advise you to check your grades often to make sure there
were no data entry mistakes. I'm always happy to correct any mistakes I've
made. You just need to let me know about them.
Grading Scale: Although I'm not philosophically opposed to curving
grades, I find it's rarely necessary. The grade scale will be the usual:
A (93-100), A- (90-92), B+ (87-89), B (83-86), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79),
C (73-76), C- (70-72), D+ (67-69), D (63-66), D- (60-62), E (0-59).
If I do need to curve the grades, I will simply shift everything down
by a few points (whatever is necessary).
Other Policies: Due to experience, I have decided to make some
additional policies regarding my classroom administration and grading.
- There will be no retakes of exams ever. Your score is
what you get.
- You may take an alternate exam if you talk to me about it first
and explain the extenuating circumstances that make it necessary.
Needing to work, babysitting your siblings, oversleeping, or needing
more time to study do not pass as acceptable reasons to inconvenience
me. Getting in a car crash or your mother's death, on the other
hand, is sufficient reason to request to take an alternate exam. But,
it is 100% your responsibility to communicate with me as soon as is
possible, before the exam occurs (or as soon as possible).
Talking to me after the problem will be sufficient reason
for me to allow you to get a zero on that test. I reserve the right
to make alternate exams more difficult than the scheduled exam.
- I will demand respectful behavior in my classroom. Examples of
disrespect include reading a newspaper or magazine in class, social
chatting with your friend in class, text-messaging your buddies during
class or cuddling with your girl/boyfriend in class. If you choose to
be disrespectful during my class, I can guarantee I will take action
to terminate your disruptive behavior.
- There will be no cursing nor negative ranting (for example,
“math sucks”) on any written work turned in. The penalty
for such things on your written work will be a zero score on that
assignment or test!
- You need to have a valid email address registered with Campus
Information System. I will regularly send emails to the class and will
hold you accountable for receiving that information. If you have
troubles receiving my weekly emails, you can (1) check to make sure
your email address at Campus Information System is correct, (2) make
sure my emails are not going directly to your junk mail folder, or
(3) contact the webmaster at Campus Information System.
- If you have crisis-level extenuating circumstances which require
flexibility, it is completely your responsibility to communicate with me
as soon as possible. The longer you wait to communicate with me, the
less I can and am willing to do to help.
- If you have questions about any exam grade, or you want
to appeal the grading of the exam, you must bring it to me within one
week of the exam. After that, you will have to live with whatever
grade you got.
- Please make sure you do your best throughout the semester and come
talk to me if you need further study strategies. I will NOT offer
any extra credit at the end of the semester or any other way for you
to improve your grade at that time. If you ask me toward the end of
the semester if I'll make special arrangements for you to improve
your grade by some means, I will automatically deduct one percentage
point from your overall grade, just for asking the
- If you cheat on any homework, project, quiz or
exam, I will automatically give you a zero for that
grade. Depending on the severity of the cheating, I
may decide to fail you from the class. In all cases of
cheating, I will also report the incident to the Dean of