Go to Rose-Hulman Main Rose-Hulman Home Math Home
One of the nation's top undergraduate   
engineering, science, and mathematics colleges   

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 precalculus prerequisites (Ready for Rose Math): 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.

We assist all new students entering Rose-Hulman to achieve a mastery of precalculus prerequisites through the Ready for Rose Math program.

  • The first part is an online diagnostic test taken in the summer. The results of this test will tell a student what areas of the prerequisites. The aggregates results of the exam will be used by the Calculus faculty to determine if review is need at certain parts of the Calculus course.
  • The second part of the program is a online Moodle support group to which all students belong during the fall quarter. The group is not a formal course but the instructor will be urging you to remedy the deficiencies form the diagnostic test through practice

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 at Rose-Hulman:

  • 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 mathematics final exam policy).

Communication: 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 graduation.

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 policy, 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 policy 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 absences.

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 time" outside 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 due.

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 class notes 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 (usually in Moodle), you should book mark it and check it frequently.

Classroom behavior: 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 cellphone'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 course.
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.

This document was last modified: 08/28/2013
Questions and Comments to: mathwebmaster@rose-hulman.edu