Math 124/5/6 (H), Autumn 2008 to Spring 2009
The Honors Calculus series was one of my first encounters with both the Honors Program and the UW's general sciences courses. I felt uber prepared for this class-- I had completed AP Calculus AB by my junior year of high school, tutored students, and won multiple awards for my achievement in math. This course was my first lesson in the universal unspoken series of "College versus High School." My straight A's in high school didn't prepare me for the curvy thought processes of theory essential to completing the writing problems that were at the heart of this course.
This artifact shows the progression (or degression) of my notes/attention span/opportunity for retention. My first notes are neat and meticulous: outfitted with headings, subheadings, side explanations, labelled diagrams and event simplified directions for "Finding Local Extrema." As the quarter went on, distractions doodled from my mind onto the margins of the page, until finally both visual daydreams and written explanations are omitted in a nonchalant fury to make something stick.
Though radically different, my notes are reminiscent of my "studying strategy" in high school. I had perfected the technique of "cram and dump." I would cram simple directions or pictures of sample problems and then dump this out of my brain and out of my test. A strategy that neglects both understanding and retention.Although I did well on the technical mathematics, I was surprised to find that mathematical theory didn't stick with me as easily as they did in high school. I easily scored in the 90% on the exams standardized to all calculus sections that quarter, but quickly realized my weakness in writing problems. In hindsight, the entire calculus series was an integral lesson in how learning at a university is different from getting by at a high school.