Thursday, October 14, 2010

Course Pre-req changes....

Here is a heads-up on some course pre-requisite changes that we will be implementing immediately. We will be forcing anyone considering 110.211 Honors Multivariable Calculus to either take 110.201 Linear Algebra or 110.212 Honors Linear Algebra as a co-requisite (at the same time), or to have one of them (or equivalent) as a pre-requisite. If either of our versions of Linear Algebra are to be used as a pre-requisite, then the final grade must be a B+ or better.

The reasons are simple: A good, solid working knowledge of linear algebra is absolutely necessary to fully understand the theoretical underpinning of multivariable calculus. One can say that multivariable calculus IS the non-linear generalization of linear algebra (or that linear algebra is simply the linearization of multivariable calculus). This allows us to concentrate on the calculus nature of the topic without having to focus on leveling the background deficiencies of some of our students. It also will dampen the urge of some of our students to jump into a course they only later realize they are not qualified for. Our version of honors Calculus III is deeply theoretical by design. And we want to focus this level of training on those who definitely will be seeking a major in mathematics, or have a real interest in and dedication to the formal development of the mathematical topic.

As for the co-requisite option, it turns out that how linear algebra is used and developed within vector calculus lends itself well to a side-by-side learning experience.

We will continue to monitor this course (along with its text choice). But for the short term, you must have linear algebra in your back pocket (or promise to attain it) prior to jumping into the deep end of the multivariable calculus pool.

Happy swimming.


Anonymous said...

I graduated from the department several years back. I always wish someone had told me this before I dived head first into Honors Calc 3 without any background in linear algebra.

Richard Brown said...

Yeah, I hear you. I am sure it has been a lingering problem for years. It became acute this last year when many students dove into the "deep end of the pool" without first learning how to swim.

I am glad that we have finally taken action. Sorry it didn't happen sooner.