CENTER FOR INQUIRY BASED LEARNING

Mathematics Department - University of Michigan

 Courses MATH 486:  CONCEPTS BASIC TO SECONDARY SCHOOL MATHEMATICS   Content: Math 486 can be described as the rudiments of analysis and algebra underlying theorems used in secondary mathematics. Math486 examines the principles of analysis and algebra underlying theorems concerning fields -- especially the rationals, reals, and complex numbers; and concerning functions -- especially polynomials, exponential functions, and logarithmic functions. Mathematical underpinnings of these ideas can serve as intellectual resources for secondary teachers. Major topics covered by Math486-W11 vary from year to year, but have included: Properties of fields, including the parallels between Q[√p] and C=R[i], for positive integers p such that √p is irrational. Properties of the rational numbers, including density. A rigorous description of the long division algorithm for integers and for polynomials; invariance of the sequence of remainder terms for a particular integer dividend, assuming an integer divisor. The proof that a degree n polynomial must have exactly n complex roots (counting with multiplicity); the proof establishing an equivalence between factors of a polynomial and roots of a polynomial. Limits, convergence, and divergence of sequences of real and complex numbers; accumulation points of sets of real and complex numbers. Limits, convergence, and divergence of sequences of real functions; uniform convergence, pointwise convergence. Properties of functions including injectivity, surjectivity, invertibility, continuity, and periodicity. Definition of the exponential function and logarithmic function on a complex domain. The students are engaged via constructing collective explanations of key mathematical topics. Mathematical practices emphasized by Math486 include: Assessing the completeness and soundness of explanations and proofs of mathematical ideas. Reading, explaining, and writing conjectures and proofs. Alertness to mathematical language and precision; how small differences in phrasing may have significant mathematical implications (e.g., the phrase "the solution" versus "a solution"). Giving mathematical motivations for different given formulations of equivalent mathematical ideas; using different ways of representing the same mathematical idea, and giving explanations of why they are equivalent.