RHIT - Department of Mathematics
Academic and professional expectations
Academic and professional expectations of students - overview
Rose-Hulman has high expectations for its students, faculty, and staff. That
is because we are in the business of educating students for challenging careers
with high standards of professionalism, ethics, technical know-how, intellectual
creativity, productivity, communication, and teamwork. The standards are also
embraced by the faculty and staff so that they can achieve high standards and
also serve as role models. The mathematics department divides our expectations
for students into two different categories "Academic Expectations" -- what you
are supposed to know and be able to do, and "Professional Expectations" -- attendance,
study, work habits, classroom behavior, and ethical behaviour. The expectations
may vary from professor to professor and from course to course, but in almost
all cases the standards listed here are minimums. Professors will detail their
expectations at the start of the course, usually in the course outline or syllabus.
Academic Expectations - what you are supposed to know and be able to do
Responsibility for prerequisites and the precalculus gateway exam: Rose-Hulman starts
off every student in calculus and therefore we expect every student to have mastered
high school algebra and pre-calculus skills, including trigonometry, exponentials
and logarithms, function notation, and graphing. Each math course and most of the engineering and science
courses build upon the high school mathematics and first year calculus. You are
responsible to know and remember the content of these courses. Keep, do not sell
your calculus and sophomore mathematics books. When material is needed from these
books later on you will be expected to review on your own time, seeking help
from the learning center as necessary.
students who do not have college or AP credit for calculus upon entering Rose-Hulman will be expected to pass a precalculus gateway (mastery) exam as part of their Calculus I course at Rose-Hulman. The purpose of the exam is to ensure mastery of the precalculus materials which serve as a foundation of the first two years of math, science, and engineering at Rose-Hulman. It is typical that a mastery of precalculus material is reinforced in the first college level calculus course, hence our requirement for the exam only in Calculus I. Students will be allowed several tries at the exam until they achieve a 90% score. A sample of the exam is here. Students entering at a higher level than Calculus I may wish to review the exam also.
Applications, problem solving, and modeling: The primary reason for most students
to study foundational mathematics at Rose-Hulman is to competently use mathematics
in application and problem solving in another discipline. Thus a significant
part of the mathematics instruction will be translation of basic science and
engineering concepts into mathematics and the reverse. To develop student mastery
of application, problem solving, and modeling you will frequently be asked to
solve problems that need to be modeled in mathematics, solved, and then interpreted.
Thus, word problems are an important staple of mathematics. Do expect that each
test and exam will contain such problems. In addition, some of the problems will
be somewhat different than anything you have seen. In your professional life
you will constantly be presented with new situations and so the requirement to
solve new-to-the-student problems provides an excellent opportunity in building
these skills. Do expect to see the same thing in your other science and engineering
courses, you will see it in your mathematics courses first.
Not all problems are solved in five minutes. Therefore, you may expect to see
challenge problems and projects that may take you several hours or days to complete.
The solution process may not be obvious when you first look at the problem. Again
the purpose of this is to build problem solving skills for an entire career.
One area of great consternation for students is "math with letters", i.e., solving
and working with equations in which the basic parameters of the problems are
unknown "letters" and not specific "numbers". For example compare the two problems.
1.) A box with a square bottom and a lid has volume 1000 cu.ft. What are the
dimensions of the box with the smallest surface area?. 2.) A box with square
bottom and a lid costs $c per square foot to construct. For a box with fixed
but arbitrary volume find the cost of the box with the smallest surface area
as a function of its volume. Though these types of problems seem harder it is
a necessary part of your learning process. To be effective, mathematics must
be used at a certain level of abstraction in science and engineering. "Math with
letters" is the first step in this abstraction and is very commonly used in problem
solving and conceptual development in follow-on courses.
Mathematics with and without calculators/computers: To be a competent and effective
user of mathematics one must completely master the basic fundamental mathematics:
algebra, trigonometry, solving linear and quadratic equations, simple derivatives,
integrals, differential equations and systems of equations. The mastery is required
to develop mathematics intuition, understand concept development, and the solution
of simple problems as presented in a text or a classroom demonstration. On the
other hand, the computer and calculator greatly enhance visualization and computation
for more difficult and lengthy problems. Students need to develop facility at
both. Therefore, the following two aspects of mathematics courses are considered
to be part of the fundamental nature of the basic freshman and sophomore courses
- continuing development and demonstration of basic mathematical computation
and concepts in written form, i.e., paper and pencil only,
- development of and demonstration of the ability to use the computer and/or
calculator for routine and advanced computation, visualization, advanced
modeling, and problem solving.
Each professor will implement these in somewhat different ways in their classes,
but students should expect that there will be assignments, quizzes, tests, and
exams in both formats. In particular there is a specific final exam policy in
place for the basic math sequence in which a combination of the formats are used
(see the Final Exam policy
Communication is is extremely important for every Rose-Hulman
student and each subject has a particular perspective on communication and can
contribute to its development. Mathematics communication is still communication
in the English language though made very precise by mathematical notation. This
situation holds in every technical subject. Mathematics professors will help
you learn this by insisting on proper mathematics notation and expression (in
addition to getting the answers right) and proper style, grammar, spelling, and
punctuation. The entire work product must be correct and presentable. This will
especially hold true if you need to make a write-up for a mathematics project.
Again the goal it to develop skills that will be of value for an entire career.
Be intellectually curious:
The methods and the reasoning process of mathematics
offers just as much to educate the technical mind as the myriad little procedures,
algorithms, and problem solving templates you learn. Therefore, do pay attention
to the larger concepts as well as the solution steps, and how to get the answer.
This applies to all the courses at Rose. In addition, mathematics is very broadly
applicable. Math professors try to give a sense of this broad applicability by
presenting varying applications with a common theme. Rejecting material "because
it is not relevant to my major" misses the educational point. Moreover it its
difficult for freshmen or sophomores to know what is and what is not relevant
to a major, especially when the students interests change both before and after
Professionalism Expectations - expectations for attendance, study, work habits,
classroom behavior, and ethical behavior
Not all that you learn at college comes from the books. Rose graduates typically
take on demanding careers with high standards of professionalism. You have four
years for your personal growth: work ethic, time management, work habits, quality
of written and oral communication, and professional behavior. Along with the
course content, each course at Rose helps develop these skills either formally
through course materials or by practice in meeting the demands of your various
courses. Many Rose graduates have repeatedly told us that the personal and work
habits that they developed at Rose made it a breeze for the transition to the
working world. The faculty at Rose understand that this is just as important
as the content of their courses and reinforce these work habits through their
course policies and workload. Much of the policy and guidance below is codified
in the Academic Rules and Procedures Handbook.
A vigorous attendance policy:
Rose-Hulman puts a very high value on classroom
and laboratory interaction, both faculty-student and student-student interaction.
Furthermore, the pace of Rose-Hulman courses is very fast. Therefore, being absent
not only hurts yourself, it detracts from the classroom or lab's interactive
learning environment. Rose has a very vigorous attendance
, and the mathematics department policy is modeled on those.
Students are expected to be attend each and every class and be on time. Exceptions
are made only for excused absences. Excused absences are for: illness, personal
or family emergency or crisis, professional activities (e.g., presenting at a
conference, attending a workshop, academic competitions), and RHIT-sanctioned
co-curricular activities (e.g., sports travel). You must seek an excused absence
in advance, unless the circumstances dictate otherwise. For professional activities
or co-curricular activities the professor or coach will normally request the
absence, and you must personally communicate with your professor about each absence
to make arrangements for getting required work done. (See make up work below).
Each professor has the authority to make up an attendance policy in accordance
with the RHIT attendance
mentioned above, and will announce it at the beginning of the course.
Because of the importance of attendance, each professor will normally assign
an academic penalty for excessive absence. The policy is determined by the professor,
but in any case, an academic penalty will be exacted for more than four unexcused
Make up work:
For an excused absence make-up work must be negotiated in advance
and be in accordance with the professor's attendance policies. For an unexcused
absence makeup work will generally not be allowed. So, for example, if you oversleep
and miss a test, do not expect a make-up test.
Not being ready for test, a high workload, and poor performance on a test are
not normally accepted as reasons for a make-up or assignment extension. If you
have truly extenuating circumstances your professors will discuss your situation
with you, but do not expect that make-ups are a right. The same applies to the
final exam, any variance from the published schedule must be discussed in advance
and have truly extenuating circumstances. See also the institute
regulation on final exams
Study habits and homework policies:
For most mathematics courses,
expect to spend, on average, at least two hours of "focused study
of class for each hour in class
. Most of this time will be spent
working assignments or projects. The pace of instruction in college is much faster
than in high school, hence the large amount of homework. The best study preparation
for tests is to keep up with homework assignments, and to reinforce understanding
by asking your professor questions in class, or in office hours as you are learning
the materials, not moments before the test. Instructors give some advanced warning
of when assignments, and projects are due. Start them as soon after they are
assigned as your schedule permits, not at 4:00 A.M. of the day that they are
Homework assignments must be neat, and handed in on time, usually at the beginning
of the class on the due date. Some professors may assign a penalty for late work
by giving it a reduced grade or just not accepting it. Make sure that every homework
assignment has the following information: your name, campus mail box #, professor's
name, course & section, assignment number or problem #'s. Do not crowd the
work, and highlight or box final answers where appropriate.
Office hours and communication:
Every math professor sets aside certain hours
for meeting with students. Moreover, faculty will make an appointment to meet
with you (during the school day) if you are unable to attend the office hours.
Some faculty will try to accommodate walk-ins, but please understand that it
is an unreasonable expectation for faculty members, to prematurely interrupt
conversations, skip lunch or otherwise drop everything just because you show
up unannounced. It is particularly irritating for students to show up 10-20 minutes
before class asking for extensive help on the homework. Most faculty are putting
the finishing touches on or making a final review of class presentation at this
time. Ditto for extensive problems while the professor is setting up for class.
When you come to office hours, please ensure that have made a noble attempt at
solving the problem yourself before seeking help. You will not build up problem
solving skills unless you work at it first. Many faculty communicate with their
students by web pages and email in addition to class meetings. Make sure that
you check (and read) your email at least once a day, but not during class. As
assignments are often returned by campus mail you need to check campus mail daily
as well. If your professor has a web page, you should book mark it and check
In class you are expected to pay attention and remain on
task. You must be prepared to enter into the discussion when called upon by the
professor. If reading or other preparation has been assigned, make sure it is
done so that you can participate in the discussion. You should also be prepared
to ask questions about the material being presented. Do not waste class time
by asking questions about things which are irrelevant to the entire class discussion,
or to ask about something that was covered earlier in class while you were not
paying attention. Typically the professor will suggest that you discuss an issue
after class if he/she feels that it will sidetrack the class discussion, though
you may not have realized that when you asked the question. If seat work has
been assigned you must work on that. If the professor directs you to work in
groups, you must contribute and the discussion in the group must focus on the
work at hand. Some simple don'ts:
- Don't surf the internet or read your email while in class. Make sure that
your use of the laptop is relevant to the class. Ditto for PDA's
- Don't do homework or reading for another class.
- Don't carry on a distracting side conversation with others in the class.
- Don't sleep in class.
- Don't say or do offensive, hurtful, or distracting things in class.
- Make sure that visual items showing on your laptop are not distracting
or offensive to other members of the class, the professor, or visitors. Even
though students own their computers they do not own the classroom or the
Should you need it, your professor will offer you guidance on appropriate classroom
behavior. If the behavior is severely disruptive, particularly egregious, or
repeated the professor may ask you to sit elsewhere or leave the classroom.
Ethics and academic misconduct:
Academic misconduct is cheating, plagiarism,
or interfering with the academic progress of other students. The Academic Rules
and Procedures document provides extensive rules
and procedures for academic and other misconduct
. The Mathematics Department
follows these rules seriously. The minimum penalty for such misconduct is for
the instructor to award zero credit for whatever test, exam, project or quiz
on which the misconduct occurs, even if it results in a lowered or failing grade,
and to report the misconduct to the Dean of Students. Faculty members may exact
a higher penalty, up to and including failure in the course if they feel the
misconduct warrants such action. Students may appeal the sanctions to the rules
and discipline committee, per the cited web page.