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A Non-Profit Organization

Ambiguity for Beginners FridayLive! 2pmET April 26 TLT Group

  • 26 Apr 2019
  • 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • Zoom Online Conf.


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Ambiguity for Beginners

Lowering-Thresholds to “Get Thru” Killer Gateway Courses 

  FridayLive! Online April 26, 2pm ET

I.  Fundamental, Persistent Ambiguities - Intro

Some essential elements of a subject (e.g.  notation idiosyncratic to the subject) may seem ambiguous to many beginners.  Most who succeed in the subject become adept at instantly resolving those ambiguities through contextual clues.   Consequently, non-beginners (especially subject experts) may no longer recognize those ambiguities as such.  Non-beginners may even be unable to recall how they eventually overcame these ambiguity obstacles.

Many learners’ preparation for Gateway Courses leave fundamental ambiguities unaddressed and unresolved.

II.  Examples from/for Math 101, English 101, Chemistry 101, ..

Math 101:  Order of Operations - esp. variations among graphing calculators, Google, Mathematica, ...

English 101:  Reading Textbooks - Annotation;  Punctuation;  Speech vs. Online Text vs. Academic Writing

Chemistry 101:  Notation, Rules for representing elements, molecules, ...

III.  Resources for Lowering Ambiguity Thresholds


Context:  Low-Threshold Improvements for "Killer" Gateway Courses 

More readings and other info, including detailed session descriptions...  

...and... Some perspectives (heh heh?)?

"...understanding physics and the other mathematical sciences can sometimes be so difficult. The basic point is that our notation is often an absolute mess, caused by the fact that we use equations like we use natural language, in a highly ambiguous way:“'It is necessary to present the science in the language of mathematics. Unfortunately, when we teach science we use the language of mathematics in the same way that we use our natural language. We depend upon a vast amount of shared knowledge and culture, and we only sketch an idea using mathematical idioms.'” - excerpt from "Using Unambiguous Notation" by Jonathan Yedidia(?), posted October 19, 2007 in blog ""

Also see "When you look away for a second during class..." GIF re notation, etc.

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