Writing in Math: Apple Pie or Alpha Pi?
Dr. Betsy Duke, Kaplan University Math Professor
As a Math Professor, and self-described non-writer, my style is to never indent, write tons of sentences in one paragraph and make liberal use of dashes in lieu of more formal punctuation and include many exclamation points!! I learned years ago that if you are in doubt as to where to put a comma – just don’t; and if you aren’t sure of the correct spelling of a word, pick another word. So, it is likely odd that I would be participating in a writing blog. I’m a bit surprised to be here myself.
I cannot add any magical tips for grading since I pretty much grade writing on a hit-or-miss basis. However, there is an issue that I have with my students about using incorrect words in writing on the discussion board in our classroom. In math, we use the Greek letter for pi in many formulas. Since students don’t always know where to find the symbol, they use their imaginations. This results in many students using the formula A = pie r2. This is a major pet peeve of mine. It both annoys me and makes me hungry.
Already I’m on my third paragraph – unbelievable!! So, what is the answer? Humor!! I don’t like to embarrass anyone in front of their fellow students, and if they make mistakes I remind them that we all learn better from our mistakes than our successes. So, when I see someone throwing pie on my discussion board, I just make a funny out of it and gently nudge them towards pi instead. We surely do not want sugar ants invading our discussions! Oh and what is the significance of Alpha Pi? There is none. It was just another Greek letter that happened to sound good when stated after Apple Pie!!!