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Viewing: MATH 4150W helfera : History of Mathematics - Writing Intensive

Last approved: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:44:15 GMT

Last edit: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:43:33 GMT

Proposal Type

Writing Intensive

Contact Information

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Term for Proposal

Spring 2017

Course Catalog Information

Mathematics (MATH)
History of Mathematics - Writing Intensive
This is a history course with mathematics as its subject. Includes topics in the history of mathematics from early civilizations onwards. The growth of mathematics, both as an abstract discipline and as a subject which interacts with others and with practical concerns, is explored. Prerequisites or Cirequisite: MATH 2300 or MATH 2340. Writing intensive sections require ENGLSH 1000.
A-F (allow student to choose S/U option)

Instructor Information

(numbers only)
Tenured Professor
301 Mathematical Sciences
Yes, but instructor doesn’t recall when or it has been longer than five years

The Campus Writing Program conducts a two-day faculty workshop to assist with the design and implementation of your writing intensive course. Once your course proposal has been approved by the Campus Writing Program, you will receive information on time, date and location of the workshop.
Indicate below if additional instructors are planned, but specific individuals have not yet been chosen. Check all that apply

Briefly describe the qualifications of the known graduate instructors, or planned qualifications if graduate instructors are still to be selected, bearing in mind that graduate students teaching honors courses should be advanced students with a record of excellent teaching.

Honors Course Information

Answer the questions below as they would apply to one section. For all other sections, provide similar information in the Additional Sections Information box below.



Writing Intensive Course Information

This is a history course with mathematics as its subject. It includes topics in the history of mathematics from early civilizations onwards. The growth of mathematics, both as an abstract discipline and as a subject which interacts with others and with practical concerns, is explored. Group work is important but there is no direct evaluation of this. Typically, I ask students to work in small groups to try to interpret a text. Some groups are chosen to present their interpretations, and there is class discussion. I provide a summary, making sure to list the important points, and possibly some additional comments.
The course has been going well; I don not anticipate major changes.
Self paced?

Should this course be considered for funding?
Large Enrollment Courses:

Writing Intensive Assignments

Microthemes (3)
a) There are several homeworks [3-4], which can be thought of as microthemes, typically 1-3 pages.
Length of assignment:
Adam Helfer

Book Report
b) There is a book report, 5-10 pages, two drafts required. Additionally, students are required to submit a brief plan listing the book and at least two outside sources which they will use in evaluating its historical accuracy.
Length of assignment:
Adam Helfer
Adam Helfer

Term Paper
c) There is a term paper, 10-15 pages, two drafts required. Students are also required to submit a proposal for the paper, describing their topic and giving a tentative bibliography. In all cases, the instructor evaluates all work. Before beginning the term paper, students will submit a 1-page proposal, including a project description and bibliography.
Length of assignment:
Adam Helfer
Adam Helfer

Total pages for all assignments:
First drafts:
Additionally, the mid-term and the final each require some short essays which will total approximately 3-4 pages.

I am attaching scanned copies of two microtheme assignments. (One is identified as an in-class assignment, but I sometimes give it as a microtheme.) Also below is a sample answer for the YBC 8633 assignment. Students find it very challenging to produce responses which are comparably complete and concise. What I am looking for are interpretations and analyses which are both logically rigorous and closely tied to the text.

The other assignment (BM 96957 + VAT 6598) is lengthier and requires more thought; almost all students need two drafts for that one.

If you want to follow the details, you will need to know that the texts are translated from base 60, and this is indicated in the translations by separating the base-60 places by commas (or spaces and a semicolon). (Thus 3,20 = 3 x 60 + 20 x 1 = 200.)

Writing Intensive Teaching

Peer review
I have sometimes used oral presentations, and I may do so again. The difficulty is that they do take a great deal of class time.
a) The homeworks typically ask students to interpret texts usually primary sources and discuss their implications. b) The book report requires the students to discuss the historical accuracy of a book or portion of a book. c) The term paper requires the students to write on an approved topic bearing on the history of mathematics, discussing critically the relevant literature.
The homeworks are given in the first part of the semester. The long writing assignments occupy the latter portion these in turn are broken up so that the students make steady progress: they must first turn in a proposal for how they will do the assignment, which I review and approve, then they have deadlines for turning in their drafts.

Course Syllabus

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Administrative Information

Natural and Applied Sciences


I have read and reviewed the updated proposal

Additional Comments

Lina Trigos Carrillo (trigoscarrillol) (Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:56:32 GMT): Contacted faculty to request more information about individual assignments and microthemes.
Patricia Luckenotte (luckenottep) (Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:43:33 GMT): I have added MATH 4150W, 01 to the Spring 2017 Schedule of Classes and cancelled the regular section of MATH 4150, 01. The students who were enrolled in MATH 4150 were moved to the new section of MATH 4150W
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