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Rhino
TheRhinLOLRegistered User regular

I'm taking to algebra classes this year at a local community college. Together they are suppose to equal a high school algebra education - pre-reqs before I move to college level algebra.

Last semester I got an A, this one I'm getting a high B. Neither was/is graded on a curve. I've did all the homework and even the non-required Chapter Test and Chapter Reviews in book.

I say this, just to establish that I'm putting the effort in and I am motivated to learn. The question though, is that I don't feel like any of this is "clicking". I understand the rules well enough, but don't understand why some of them are like that, nor how all the pieces fit together.

Also I have a problem with retaining the information. Some rules from last semester I have already forgotten (and it's only been a few months!).

Lastly, I don't know if I could use this stuff in the real world. I can do word problem easy enough, but in my personal or professional (programming) life I've never said to myself "oh, I can use algebra to figure this out!" and instead figure it out using some hacky brute force way.

Last semester I got an A, this one I'm getting a high B. Neither was/is graded on a curve. I've did all the homework and even the non-required Chapter Test and Chapter Reviews in book.

I say this, just to establish that I'm putting the effort in and I am motivated to learn. The question though, is that I don't feel like any of this is "clicking". I understand the rules well enough, but don't understand why some of them are like that, nor how all the pieces fit together.

Also I have a problem with retaining the information. Some rules from last semester I have already forgotten (and it's only been a few months!).

Lastly, I don't know if I could use this stuff in the real world. I can do word problem easy enough, but in my personal or professional (programming) life I've never said to myself "oh, I can use algebra to figure this out!" and instead figure it out using some hacky brute force way.

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Use it or lose it, applies heavily in the world of math. My last math professor had a masters in math and showed us reams of paper of practice problems, proofs and other crap.

I would say 90% of the stuff I learned all the way up thru Calculus is wasted. The other 10% is incredibly useful. Basic algebra and how to manipulate equations, percents, fractions, summation equations, basic probability/stats, and basic geometry are about all I use.

travathianonI haven't rode a bike in 3 years and could probably still do it on command, I haven't played Street Fighter 2 since 4 came out (almost a year now), but I can probably still do 100% stun combos with M Bison. But both of those examples have been trained through my hands/body, muscle memory and whatnot.

If I take a couple days off from working on my programming class, I'll still forget a few items of basic syntax to this day.

Another thing to add is that math (like street fighter combos) is not a natural thing for most people, it's a jelly-like mass you have to push through until you can walk through problems. Unfortunately, it never 'clicks' and you have a sudden jump in realizations and ability, you'll only ever realize how far you've come until you look at earlier problems.

Obscure math skills that you learn in classes are quickly forgotten if you do not immediately dive into something that forces you to use all of it all the time. But if they don't teach it to everyone the system will never catch the potential engineers/scientists. For the rest of us, we just have to take all of our math classes close together so we can get through it and take that 10% with us.

TIFunkaliciousonCan you ask? If you knew why stuff worked the way it does you'd probably retain it better.

Honestly, basic algebra is simple enough that whatever hacky way you figured out to solve these problems is probably the same as some method you learned in algebra, and you could have solved them faster if you had a better theoretical grasp of the algebra. A lot of people have trouble making these connections. Here's an example: I want to set up a loop for k=1 to 30 that spits out numbers evenly spaced from 21 (when k=1) to 108 (when k=30). How would you do it? Then, how would you do it if 30, 21, and 108 were all variables? If you're good in algebra you can solve this in no time.

Marty81on1. To build your "toolbox" of rules and methods. Complicated real world problems (I'm told) often require a myriad of techniques to figure out and solve.

2. To get you to think analytically not only in regards to math but in regards to any other problem presented to you.

I current work at an engineering firm, and I'm told on a continual basis by both our low and high level electrical engineers that they don't use much beyond algebra. It's the comprehension level and ability to understand complex problems that gives these classes value. Obviously there are places where ridiculous math is used, but the more I talk to people who did take the high level courses (not just at my job) the more I think these are the exception rather than the rule.

As far as improving your comprehension, practice. It comes down to this Do all the problems in a chapter that you need to feel comfortable with that type of problem and any variations they'll throw at you, if you still don't feel like you've got the concepts, look online and find some more on the topic. Youtube videos helped me incredibly in calc, often times hearing ideas presented a second time from another point of view really made things click.

I'll also say that sometimes this stuff doesn't click until you get deeper into the line. I only really

trulygot basic algebra after I finished Calc 1. Calc 1 (and trig for that matter) didn't fully make sense until I'd finished Calc 2. Often times things won't click until you get more pieces of the puzzle in view, so don't be too hard on yourself, just keep plugging away.milehighon