Putting the fun in the factorial function

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Picture this. You’re sitting in your math class while the professor is explaining order of operations  — and you actually GET it. Don’t think it’s possible? Would it help if your professor was wearing leopard skin boxers over his pants? Mathematics professor Ben Moulton thinks it might.

Moulton believes that every student has a different learning style, and the best way to help a student learn is to determine how he or she learns. “Math is hard because it’s so sequential,” he says. “It takes a big amount of linear thinking and if you miss the basics, or just one early step, you become lost immediately.” Moulton has found that music is a great tool for reinforcing those basics.

One semester, he recalls, he tried explaining functions until he was blue in the face to his class and there was one student who simply couldn’t get it. While teaching him one-on-one, Moulton discovered an analogy with CD’s and disc collections that helped make the concept clear to the student. The next time he taught functions, Moulton brought in Bruce Springsteen and other LP’s to help explain how to plug in the g of x. Moulton also brings in the harmonica, keyboard and guitar in order to give the more “kinesthetic” students the best chance to understand the material through tangible examples — even going as far as dressing drastically.

Moulton’s biggest recommendation to students struggling with math is an invitation to visit him and others. He will work directly with you to find out your studying habits and learning ability, then help you make a small list of professors that would be best suited to your learning style.

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