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Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to describe the goals of the course, to describe a general process useful in completing the course, and to clarify the responsibilities of the student and the advisor.

Goals

  1. Students will gain experience working independently on a problem that is beyond the normal scope of the course.
  2. Students will present mathematical work to a general audience.

Process

  1. Problem Section.

    Students need to keep the Research Project and Presentation requirement in mind when registering during their junior and senior years. The student and instructor will consult on the topic or application to be researched. In some cases the instuctor will assign a particular topic to a student, whereas in other cases, the student may locate their own topic.

  2. The Research
    1. Understand the Problem. Become familiar with examples, similar problems and propositions related to the problem.
    2. Background Investigation. Who first considered this problem? Are there interesting biographies of mathematicians who have worked on this problem? Are there open questions related to this problem.
    3. Research. Next, the student should engage in independent research on the problem. Locate, read and understand the literature related to the problem. Be prepared to cite sources. If there is something the student is unable to figure out, the instructor will be willing and prepared to provide direction to the student.
  3. The Presentation
    1. The student, in consultation with their instructor, shall select and organize the items from their research that they wish to present. consider carefully the nature of the audience and select material and modes of presentation appropriate to an audience of undergraduate mathematics majors.
    2. Methods of presentation may include overheads, Power Point, or calculator programs. Visual aids such as posters and three-dimensional objects should be used when appropriate.
    3. Students should work to keep their audience engaged in the topic. Seek a balance between examples and theory. After a difficult point is presented, pull the audience back in with an interesting aspect of the problem or with an historical vignette.
    4. Practice the presentation with the instructor. Other students and professors may be asked to give informal input at this same time.
    5. Present in a public forum. Faculty and other students will be in attendance. This presentation is scheduled for an hour during the school week. Students are encouraged also to give a presentation at the Student Scholarship and Creative Achievement Day in April.