Reducing Algebra as a Calculus Pain Point

Time and time again, we hear from calculus professors across the country that one of the biggest issues in their classes is students remembering the building blocks of algebra.

Here are a few suggestions to help ensure students have the basics mastered:

Consider diagnostic testing.

Identify students who have skill gaps, then provide them with supplemental assignments in the first weeks of class for additional support.

Ask students who excel on the diagnostic test if they are willing to be course mentors, which will build classroom camaraderie.

If possible, host a 1-day algebra refresher workshop before the first day of class.

Begin the term explaining how algebra is foundational to calculus. Let students know they are not alone in struggling with algebraic concepts. Hosting an algebra refresher will help students feel more comfortable asking questions.

Remind students that you’re grading for accuracy.

Feedback is critical for students to realize they are struggling. If time permits, set aside a few minutes after passing back assignments so students can look over the feedback you gave them and ask questions.

Provide every student with technology resources as further help.

List out a few tech resources that are easy to access, such as YouTube videos or online interactive games, on your syllabus. Additionally, look for calculus materials that provide a brief algebra refresher as part of the text.


Hawkes Learning’s Calculus with Early Transcendentals textbook and NEW courseware offer exercises and diagnostic testing that target the key algebraic topics calculus students need to master. Request a complimentary exam copy.

f180c00b-7394-4fcc-b69f-ef67405fead8

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s