About writeups and workshops for Math 251:05-10, spring 2006

The Math Department has required writeups of multistep, nonstandard problems (here referred to as "workshop problems") as part of the general calculus curriculum since 1995. This requirement is a consequence of our recognition that:

Written and oral communication of scientific work is important and can be difficult.

What is a writeup?
A writeup is a small essay. It should progress logically and be easy to read. It will be graded both on mathematical content and on presentation.

  • Give explanations in complete sentences.
  • Include any information (such as pictures and computations) that you think is useful.
  • Label any pictures.
  • Do not include straightforward computational details. For example, you may just state that if f(x)=3x7+25x4-19x2+5, then f(-2)=-87. The details of substitution and evaluation should not be shown.
  • Neatness counts: your workshop report must be written legibly on standard size paper. Observe margins on all four sides. Please write on one side only. Please put your name, your section number, the workshop number, and the page number on each sheet. Please staple the pages together in the proper order.
One very good reference on writing is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It is quite brief. The fourth edition is a thin, reasonably priced paperback (listed at $10, priced at less than $7 on the web). An early edition is available online.

Exposition is a skill which can be learned. Comments on your work are intended to help this process.

The rules
While you are encouraged to discuss the problem with other students and with me, the written work you hand in must be your own. Please acknowledge any quotes and reference any sources.

An example
Here is an "official" example of a writeup of a calc 1 workshop problem. The writeup is somewhat elaborate and lengthy to me, but the principles displayed there are good. Generally I hope that writeups will be at most a page or two long.

Each workshop report will be graded on a scale of 0-10. Half the points are for "mathematical content" and half for "exposition". If the mathematics is illegible than you cannot get either the content points or the exposition points. "Exposition" includes the format described above, the layout of your computations, and the explanatory sentences. "Content" includes the mathematical appropriateness of the work you do, and the correctness of the computations (numerical and symbolic) and any diagrams and graphs you use to motivate, carry out, and report your work and your results.
Late workshops will be accepted only for good reason.
Roughly speaking scores are given as follows: 0 means nothing legible is there. 2 means there is some relevant work in proper format, but it makes almost no progress. 4 means the format is okay and there is some mathematical progress. 6 means format and exposition is okay and there is reasonable mathematical progress. 8 means format and exposition is okay and the mathematics is almost complete. 10 means there are no important errors in math or exposition. Intermediate score are intermediate: e.g. 7 is between 6 and 8.

Writeups should be correct and easy to read.

Maintained by greenfie@math.rutgers.edu and last modified 1/29/2006.
Some of what is stated above were suggested by work of Professor A. Cohen.