Department of Mathematics

Department of Mathematics

Tips For Success

  • Attend all classes.
  • There is an extremely large correlation between attendance and passing this course.  Each class utilizes tools and concepts learned from previous classes. In the rare event that you must be absent from class, be sure to complete the material covered during your absence so that you will be able to accomplish the tasks asked of you when you return to class:
    • Obtain the notes from a peer;
    • Read and complete the activity from your text that was covered in class;
    • Outline the important information discovered while doing the activity;
    • Compare your outline with your peers class notes;
    • Complete the associated homework;
    • After you have reviewed the notes and worked on homework, go to the tutor lab or make an appointment with your instructor to discuss any questions you have about the material.
  • Actively participate during classes.  Do not wait for your peers to hand you the solutions.
  • After completing an in-class task ask your self what the goal of the task was.
    • Why did the instructor ask you to do this specific task?
    • What did you learn from the task?
    • How did this build off of or extend a previously known skill or concept?
  • Constantly ask yourself and others "why".
    • Why did you think to start the problem in this way? What was your intuition?
    • Why is this step valid (mathematically legal)?
    • Why is this middle step helpful? In other words, how will this middle step help us finish the problem?
  • Fill out a 3x5 card with any questions about the material covered that day or a mathematical revelation on your part for the day.  Your instructor will have 3x5 cards available every day and these can be filled out anonymously if you prefer.
  • Take notes during class.  Be sure to take notes on what is said as well as what is written on the board.  Keep in mind that it is not humanly possible to capture everything and pay attention, so it is extremely important to fine-tune your notes after class. If you need help developing your note taking skills, visit the Academic Skills Center. They will be more than happy to help and have a College Success Seminar devoted entirely to note taking. All College Success Seminars are free to WMU students.
  • Fine-tune your class notes as soon after class as possible.  Do not wait more than a day.  The longer you wait the less you will recall of important classroom discussions.  These rewritten notes will be more organized than in class notes and will allow you to study for exams more efficiently.
    • Summarize the activities and discussions from class.
    • Indicate and explain important ideas/concepts.
    • Provide connections between this class and previous classes.
    • Phrase questions on topics unclear to you.  These questions might be answered while you outline your text.  If not, be sure to go to the tutor lab, your instructor, or the SI leader for assistance.

  • Read and outline your textbook.
    • Be sure to rewrite definitions in your own words and create/present examples to clarify the definitions.
    • Reread examples to determine what point the authors are trying to make with the examples given.
    • The Academic Skills Center provides a College Success Seminar devoted to reading a text, so utilize this free service for additional help.
  • Talk to peers to fill in each other’s gaps.
  • Do all assigned homework.
    • If you struggle with any of the assigned problems, find a similar problem in the text or online homework (MathXL or WileyPlus) for extra practice.
    • Be sure to show all work, justify each step, and write down any formula you use.
    • If you use a graphing calculator write down the equation(s) you typed into the calculator.
  • Check your solutions.  Many assigned problems will not be collected.  You are responsible for determining whether your solutions are correct.  This may mean discussing your homework with your peers.
  • After we complete a chapter, look over your notes (rewritten class notes, text notes, and comments from peers).  Summarize the content of these and look for connections within the chapter and connections between the new material with previous knowledge.
  • Utilize the free services provided by the Academic Skills Center.
  • Your teaching team (your instructor, SI leader and tutors in the tutor lab) is here for you.  Utilize us as need be, but realize that you will need to be able to fly solo during exam time and knowledge of these skills and concepts will be expected in your next class.


Developmental Mathematics Program

Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5248 USA
(269) 387-4117 | (269) 387-4530 Fax