Why do these modules use Mathcad?
The most important consideration in our choice of software is how well a particular software package can facilitate the goal of teaching students to think quantitatively. We have found that the “look” of Mathcad documents reassures students. Equations written in Mathcad look (more or less) like equations on paper. Even fairly complex operations like solving ordinary differential equations can be accomplished fairly visually, without anything that looks like a program. And problems often can be framed in ways that make the most intuitive sense, rather than in the way that is most efficiently processed. Further, students can purchase a Mathcad license to use indefinitely at a price that is only a fraction of most college textbooks.
What’s with the blue and beige boxes in the module?
We use colors to indicate different types of regions. Beige boxes contain explanatory material. Blue indicates instructions for a specific problem. These are followed by white regions where students type text or do calculations in response to the problem.
We use pale red as a warning to avoid common errors.
Why is the first row of an array numbered "0" instead of "1"?
Mathcad’s default convention is to begin numbering arrays at 0. You can change this by resetting the ORIGIN. However, this can lead to errors in other parts of these worksheets because we assume ORIGIN=0.
My syllabus orders topics differently than the course modules. Is it OK to assign them in a different order?
Yes, with one exception: all modules depend on completion of Module 1, Introduction to Mathcad. Otherwise, all modules are independent. We do use the convention that higher-numbered modules are conceptually more challenging than lower-numbered modules.
What are "Mini-modules"?
Because all modules are independent, we provide instruction in methods common to multiple modules (e.g., graphing) within short units that we call mini-modules. This allows us to avoid repeating basic instruction within the module and also provides students with a quick reference on these techniques.
I’m having trouble with a particular method. Got suggestions?
If you’re running into difficulty with graphing, 3-D graphing, making histograms, writing find-solve blocks, or solving differential equations, consult one of the Mini-modules on these topics. You may be making a common error addressed in the mini-module. For other errors, consult Mathcad’s help files.
My students have really benefitted from these modules. Are there others I can download?
For more information, contact Carole Hom, clhom at ucdavis dot edu