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Calculus at Penn: General Information

Learning calculus has become a central skill in many scientific and professional careers, perhaps the most important skill. Whether calculus proves to be a barrier or a gateway for you depends on how well you learn it. We want you to do as well as you possibly can. It is for this reason that so much structure is provided:


Lectures and Recitations

Three of your four class hours each week are spent in lecture, where the professor explains the concepts and methods of calculus. At lecture, you should try to get a sense of what is the most important for you to fully understand so that you can study efficiently. Your recitation hour will have a Teaching Assistant (TA) and a smaller group of students. In recitation, attention will focus on the solution of specific calculus problems and kinds of problems.

To get the most out of recitation, it is crucial that you have seriously attempted the assigned homework in advance. The TA will try to focus on the areas where students are having difficulty; this is clearly impossible if you do not attempt the assignment ahead of time.

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Office Hours

Your professor and TA have office hours which you can attend for additional, more individualized help. If you need such assistance, it is wise not to wait until the week before an exam to go to office hours for the first time, since that is when the professor and TA will be swamped with students.

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Homework

Most of your work in calculus will be spent on homework assignments. This can be more time consuming than many other courses. The average student should spend at least 10 hours per week outside of class to master calculus well. This includes time for reading text, solving assigned homework problems (the minimum work required), working on computer assignments and discussing the harder problems with your study group. Many students will need more than 10 hours per week of practice.

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The Internet

The Math Department Web pages are another good source of information about math: Math Dept. Home page and Math Undergraduate Program. These pages contain information about the math program at Penn.

You should also become familiar with your calculus section's home page. From the Math Undergraduate page, select your own course (Math 104 etc.) from the list. You should check both the instructor's web page and the TA's page. More detailed information about how your specific class will be using its home page will be announced in lecture and/or recitation.

You can also use the Internet to get Online Help with your calculus course.

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HELP

We have a wide variety of resources both for students needing a bit of help with homework etc, and for those who have more serious difficulties. These are described on the Calculus HELP web page.


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