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Other(ing) Explanations

Most people who teach mathematics are aware that it’s useful to have alternative explanations for concepts, and useful to have different ways to approach problems. Given enough time, you are guaranteed to come across students for whom the standard explanation isn’t working today (as long as you give students a chance to tell you about […]

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Arbitrary mnemonics

A mnemonic is a mental trick to help you remember things. People use them all the time for all sorts of things, like the traditional colours of the rainbow (ROY G BIV), the order of the letters in the English alphabet (a song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), the order of operations […]

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Sticky operations

This blog post is about a metaphor I use when I think about the order of operations: the idea that the various operations are stickier than the others, holding the numbers around them together more or less strongly.
The idea begins with the fundamental idea in arithmetic, that maths working proceeds by replacing something with something […]

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Disjointed independence

There are two terminologies in probability which many students are confused about: “independent” and “disjoint”. The other day I was working with a student listening to their thinking on this and I suddenly realised why.
In your standard introduction to probability notation, various notations and terminologies are introduced, usually with reference to the meaning of the […]

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The trig functions are about multiplication

When I was taught trigonometry for the first time, I learned it as ratios of sides of right-angled triangles. Like this:

Most students coming into a Science degree at the University of Adelaide are at least vaguely familiar with this, and it’s their first instinct when using trigonometry. However, the lecturers in Physics and Engineering don’t […]

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Making sense of the effective population size formula

I was going to have a punchy title for this post, with a big moral to apply to the future, but I’ve decided I’m just going to describe to you what happened yesterday as I tried to learn some Genetics. You see what you can learn from my experience.
Yesterday I was helping out at the […]

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Obscuring the GST by making it simple

I was helping out at Roseworthy Campus yesterday as the Vet Medicine students were learning about budgeting for a Vet Clinic as a business. One aspect of this was calculating the amount of the cost of goods and services that was GST (stands for “Goods and Services Tax” — in other countries it’s known as […]

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