Jenny Wells

By

College: Undergraduate Education

Students Explore the Math Behind Real World Problems

Published: Nov 22, 2013

 

See video

Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 22, 2013) – A new University of Kentucky Core class sets out to prove that in fact you can use advanced mathematical applications to solve real world problems.

 

The goals of "Intro to Contemporary Mathematics," or MA 111, is to expose students to a variety of mathematical topics not typically seen in a traditional algebra-based math class, to encourage students to persist in solving problems and to develop an appreciation for the beauty of mathematical solutions, and to recognize the value of mathematics in solving a variety of practical problems in society and culture.

 

Martin Montgomery, a lecturer and the MA 111 course coordinator, describes how this isn't the typical math course that some students may fear and try to dodge at the collegiate level.

 

"It's an emphasis less on mathematics as students traditionally think of math — algebra, solving for x. We don't really actually do much in terms of complicated equations that students are used to, but we do deal with mathematical ideas. We analyze lots of arguments or scenarios based upon our mathematical experience and then we also try to communicate what's going on using mathematical notions and ideas."

 

To demonstrate how math can be used to examine almost any question, faculty teaching MA 111 show how math can be used to clarify and critically evaluate modern topics related to cryptography, graphing, compensation (sharing of resources) and even voting.

 

Wesley Hough, a primary MA 111 instructor and graduate student who affectionately refers to the course as "math for poets," really likes imparting how math concepts can apply to the real world.

 

"Math has this really nice way of describing the real world and encapsulating it in a really succinct way, in that you can capture these relationships that seam really abstract but they're not."

 

In addition to giving students another way to look at issues or conflicts, the faculty also hopes to show their classes that not every problem has a perfect solution.

 

"We want to expose them to advanced ideas and we sort of acknowledge that the mathematical process isn't always clean, it isn't always being able to put a box around a solution, that students are going to struggle with some ideas because they are important, they are difficult," Montgomery said. "Grit, it just gives them grittiness, you just have to persevere. It's about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off sometimes and keep trying. And the course allows you to do it, it doesn't demand perfection, math doesn't demand perfection."

 

Even the in-house homework system is set up to encourage students to develop skills that not only look for solutions, but then also analyze and communicate which is the best solution for a situation.

 

"Rather than being a static (system) where you input an answer and it tells you if you are right or wrong, we've developed questions that are much more open-ended and creative. As opposed to saying do this, show that this is the case, we ask them to just create an example that will have something happening. It forces them to actually take that analytical step and apply it in order to come up with an answer. And then we've designed it in such a way that even if they go in the wrong direction it should be giving  them clues as to why their answer is not fully correct and hopefully how they can analyze and reevaluate their answer and come up with a better answer," Montgomery said.

 

UK pre-integrated strategic communication freshman James Ranes, who particularly liked the compensation section of the class, backs up the course's claim to be a math class that the average person could use to address society's issues.

 

"My first impression of MA 111 is that it was extremely difficult, but as the semester progressed I started to get the hang of it. I could see this math being used a lot more in real world situations than any other math class I have taken."

 

The class even has Ranes thinking about taking a more algebra-based course in the future.

 

UK Core is the university's general education program, containing a set of requirements that must be completed by students of all majors in order to graduate. These requirements are focused on critical thinking, writing, reasoning, ethics and global understanding, which faculty of the university feel are essential for students to compete in the global marketplace.

 

The MA 111 class helps students fill a requirement for coursework in the area of quantitative reasoning, a conceptual process that employs one or more of a family of mathematical or logistical methods to analyze and solve problems in a variety of disciplines. Such methods guide both deductive and inductive reasoning in mathematics, the sciences, the humanities and arts, as well as in engineering, computer science and information technology.

 

Hough, who attended a small liberal arts college, sees the tremendous value MA III and the skills the other Core classes impart and is a proponent of general education courses.

 

"I think the mark of a good educated citizen is someone who is able to understand and appreciate all bodies of knowledge."

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716whitney.hale@uky.edu

 

ma111_see_innovation.jpg
November
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
College of Pharmacy Open House
Iron Pour
UK Women's Choir 20th Anniversary Concert
Adventure Hiking & Rappelling @ Red River Gorge
Pickin' Time Mountain Music and Harvest Day
Purposeful Retirement: Planning Your Next Stage of Life
Diwali Dhoom 2014
Sat
2
UK Percussion Ensemble
Day Hike
Curator Tour: Take My Word For It
Sun
3
Industry Career Week: Resumes and Cover Letters
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Morehead State
Mon
4
Industry Career Week: How to Impress Your Boss in 90 Days
Rock Star Professionalism Series
UK Lab Band
Tue
5
Industry Career Week: Networking and Job Search
Social Enterprise and Innovation / Certified Nonprofit Professional Program Informational Meeting
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Appalachian Forum with Dr. Fran Ansley
Dana Harper Gallery Reception
Wed
6
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Zona Sur
LNFS Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel
UK Jazz Ensemble
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Abstract Workshop
Lauren Potter
Thu
7
LNFS Presents: V for Vendetta
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Circle of Love Name Distribution
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Marvin Heiferman
Men's Soccer vs. Charlotte
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Georgia
Free Friday Evening Swing Dance
Fri
8
Kentucky Football vs. Georgia
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
The Power of Poetry
The Lexington Lowdown and Free Lindy Hop Workshop
Swing Dance Featuring Live music by"The Metrognomes Orchestra"
Sat
9
UK Combos Concert
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Missouri
Sun
10
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Mon
11
UK Sax Ensembles
Job Club - Interviewing Strategies
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Jose Abisambra Presentation on Current Alzheimer's Research
Women of the World: Judy Smith
Tue
12
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Reservoir Dogs
Refugee Life in America
#UKEDTALKS: International Opportunities for Education Majors
Leadership Assessment
Wed
13
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Iron Man 3
Chili and Pie Cook-Off Supper
#TrendingTopics: Vegetarians vs. Meat-Eaters
Campus Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics KY
LNFS Presents: La Demora
Thu
14
LNFS Presents: Pretty in Pink
LNFS Presents: Mean Girls
Fri
15
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
16
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Florida
Greek Cinematography: Critical Approach and Discussion
"Storied Streets" Documentary Showing about Experiences of Homelessness
Sun
17
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
UK Rep Bands Concert
College of Agriculture, Food & Environment 2014 Celebration of Land-Grant Research
Amanda Rogers, "Black Flags, ISIS 'Swag' & Jihadi Rap: Marketing Militancy after the Arab Spring"
Stories of Homelessness: Panel Discussion
Mon
18
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
A Positive Approach to Caregiving Conference
Education Abroad Open House
CatWatch Party
Appalachian Forum and Film Screening of "Up the Ridge"
Tue
19
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
LNFS Presents: The Princess and the Frog
Pinterest Party
International Games Day
Global Design with Phil Duncan
Caregiver Support Group
OXFAM Social Issues Banquet
Wed
20
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
LNFS Presents: The Big Lebowski
International Education Week Keynote Speaker: Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education at USAID
Tobacco-free Tailgate 5 Year Anniversary
Bollywood Night
Thu
21
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: Water For Elephants
4th Annual Markesbery Symposium on Aging & Dementia
Freedom from Fear: On Black Childhood and Other Dangers
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
MEAT.
Fri
22
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
23
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
UK Symphony Band and UK Concert Band
Sun
24
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Mon
25
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Job Club - What is your money habitude?
Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner
Tue
26
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Wed
27
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Thu
28
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Fri
29
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Arkansas
Sat
30
 
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 11/29/2014

Sat, 11/29/2014

Mon, 12/01/2014

Tue, 12/02/2014

Reset Page