Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am a college professor in the American education system and find that the major concern of my students is trying to determine the specific techniques or problems which I will ask on the exam. This is the typical "will this be on the test?" question.

I find this to be a major detraction from students education. Students seem to have the notion that they can discard a lot of ideas and just memorize a few specific problems in order to pass the class. Given the philosophy of some teachers to "teach to the test" when in a standardized testing environment, this does not surprise me.

This stressful approach to education seems to make student overlook major themes in each class and themes in the subject as a whole. Even worse, once they land in classes like calculus 3 and real analysis, the effects of this point of view rears its head in an ugly way.

My question is:

How can we turn students away from this way of thinking?

share|cite|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Grigory M, bwv869, Dirk, robjohn Jan 9 '14 at 19:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center." – Grigory M, bwv869, robjohn
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Whenever they ask "will this be on the test?", say yes. – Michael Albanese Jan 8 '14 at 15:19
@MichaelAlbanese Of course, but that does not change the way they think. – Wintermute Jan 8 '14 at 15:20
Eliminate testing, problem solved. – GPerez Jan 8 '14 at 15:22
@GPerez i do not mean to be rude, but your proposition is impractical for this problem. – Lost1 Jan 8 '14 at 15:32
My teacher solves the problem quite neatly. He teaches his own courses that he came up with, and writes his own tests, filling them with problems that test every aspect of everything he taught us each week, to the point where it is no longer even possible for someone to pass the tests by memorizing things, only by understanding. Q:What's on the test? A:Black toner. Q:What do we need to know for the test? A:All the math you have ever learned. Q:Do I need to know X for the test? A:Yes. – AJMansfield Jan 8 '14 at 19:38

31 Answers 31

Yeah, about the test:

From Crash Course: World History, Episode 1: The Agricultural Revolution hosted by John Green.

share|cite|improve this answer

protected by Asaf Karagila Jan 9 '14 at 18:19

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.