Instructor Insights pages are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.
Course Overview
This page focuses on the course 18.304 Undergraduate Seminar in Discrete Mathematics as it was taught by Dr. Omer Tamuz in Spring 2015.
This course is a student-led seminar on combinatorics, graph theory, and discrete mathematics, in general. Instruction and practice in written and oral communication are emphasized, with participants reading and presenting papers from recent mathematics literature and writing final papers on related topics.
Course Outcomes
Course Goals for Students
- Develop an understanding of topics in discrete mathematics
- Teach others about these topics through lectures (or math talks)
- Develop and refine a personal style of lecturing
- Provide colleagues with feedback about their lectures
- Communicate understanding of discrete mathematics through writing
Lectures were first given to me in my office before being given to the class. [...] These practice sessions often turned into joint efforts to understand the material and to improve the lectures.
—Dr. Omer Tamuz
Below, Dr. Omer Tamuz describes aspects of how he provides students with instructor and peer feedback in 18.304 Undergraduate Seminar in Discrete Mathematics.
In 18.304 Undergraduate Seminar in Discrete Mathematics, students gave 35-minute math talks during our class sessions. Almost all of these lectures were first given to me in my office before being given to the class. I didn't grade these practice sessions. Rather, they often turned into joint efforts to understand the material and to improve the lectures.
There was a quiz at the end of each lecture during our class sessions. The quiz helped the lecturer and me assess whether or not students understood the concepts presented in the lecture. After completing the quiz, students provided the lecturer with written feedback. The students and I also provided the lecturer with oral comments.
The students had to write a two-page paper in the beginning of the semester. For some of them, it was their first experience in writing formal math, and they needed to practice in order to understand what would be expected of them in the final paper. At the suggestion of our department communication specialist, I divided students into groups of three, had each group member read the first drafts of the others, and then had them give both written and oral feedback to each other.
Curriculum Information
Prerequisites
- 18.310 Principles of Discrete Applied Mathematics or 6.042J / 18.062J Mathematics for Computer Science
- And one of: 18.06 Linear Algebra, 18.700 Linear Algebra, or 18.701 Algebra I
- or permission of the instructor
Requirements Satisfied
CI-M
Offered
Every fall and spring semester
Assessment
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
Instructor Insights on Assessment
Please see Instructor Insights for ways in which Dr. Tamuz provides students instructor and peer feedback.
Student Information
Breakdown by Year
Primarily juniors and seniors.
Breakdown by Major
All of the students were math majors, with many also majoring in business and some in computer science.
Typical Student Background
Students came to the class with varied levels of preparation. Some needed quite a bit of support, while others were already very knowledgeable. Almost all the students were motivated, curious, and eager to learn
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
In Class
- Met twice per week for 1.5 hours per session; 25 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
- Students gave 35-minute math talks during class sessions.
Out of Class
- Lecture Preparation
- Writing Assignments
Semester Breakdown
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