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
February
 
1
Graduate Student Congress Meeting (February)
Mon
2
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Tue
3
K Crew Recruitment
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Wed
4
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
5
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #1
Panel Discussion: Historic Homes
Fri
6
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
7
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
8
K Crew Recruitment
Sex and Chocolate
Law School Prep Workshop
Mon
9
K Crew Recruitment
Healthy Relationships Workshop
How to Package Communication and Technical Skills on your Resume
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
2016 Distinguished Industry Lecture Series
Tue
10
K Crew Recruitment
Last Day to Receive 50% Refund
Pinterest Party #1
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Get Yourself Tested!
Showcase your Talents: Building a Strong Portfolio
An Evening with Tatyana Ali and Amir Windom: Progression Towards Success
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
How to Survive a Plague
Wed
11
K Crew Recruitment
Coffee & Canvases
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Study Abroad in Berlin!
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
12
K Crew Recruitment
Explore Blue
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Ash and the Market: Ceramic Exchange, Political Economy, and the Late to Terminal Classic Transformation of the Kiuic Polity
Fri
13
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Learn to Play Bridge
Workshop: The Artist Statement
Sat
14
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
15
K Crew Recruitment
See ICT
Patterson School Guest Speaker Series
Mon
16
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
See ICT
UK Women's Forum February Board Meeting
Tue
17
K Crew Recruitment
Food For Thought
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Wed
18
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Soup & Substance: Real Talk, Real Issues, & Real People Series
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
19
PharmD Interviews
Explore Blue
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #2
SAB Underground Formal
Fri
20
PharmD Interviews
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
21
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
22
Undergraduate Research Information Session
University Health Service- Let It Go
Mon
23
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
University Health Service- Know Your Numbers
University Health Service- Mindful Eating
Tue
24
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Don't Blame It On Aging
Ravi Zacharias at Memorial Coliseum
Wed
25
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
26
Explore Blue
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Eday Talk by Georgetown Toyota President Wil James
Do What You Are: Connecting Personalities w/ Profession
Off- Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #3
Traditions and Transformations in Tz’utujil Territory, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, 500 BC – 1524 AD
Concert in the Museum: Central Music Academy
Fri
27
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK E-Day
Pre-Opera Dinner
Sat
28
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
DanceBlue Rave Hour
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
29
Monday through Friday - Midterm Grading window is open. The mid-term grading window will close at midnight on March 11.
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
Bodies Of Evidence: Provocations: A Transnational Feminist History Project
Mon
 
 
 
 
 
Feb 11
Coffee & Canvases 02/11/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun Apr 03 2016 .
Fri, 02/12/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Mon Apr 04 2016 .
Fri, 02/12/2016

Repeats every week every Friday until Fri Feb 26 2016 .
Fri, 02/12/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun Apr 03 2016 .
Sat, 02/13/2016

Reset Page