Electronic Proceedings of the Eighth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate MathematicsHouston, Texas, November 1619, 1995Paper C033
Reducing Tedium in Teaching and Learning 
Therese Shelton
Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science
Southwestern University
Georgetown, TX 78627
USA
Phone: (512) 8631489
Fax: (512) 8635788
shelton@southwestern.edu

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Quite a few students get so lost in the details of lengthy calculations
that they cease trying or fail to see the main point. Others become too
frustrated at the sensitivity to small errors. We will consider at least
partial fractions decomposition, Gauss elimination, matrix inversion,
solving for eigenvalue/eigenvector pairs, and infinite series solutions to
differential equations. Some techniques will be presented using a
spreadsheet such as Excel which can be used even in classes for
nonmajors. Other techniques will involve the computer algebra system
Mathematica. Faculty can use these techniques as a teaching/grading
tool to check partial correctness of student answers and to help
students trace their mistakes. Students can be taught to perform
calculations in such a way that they do not rely solely on the
technology yet develop the determination and mathematical maturity
needed to tackle these problems unaided.
Keyword(s): linear algebra, spreadsheets, Mathematica