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September 24, 2020, 12:06:01 pm

Author Topic: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?  (Read 370 times)  Share 

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a weaponized ikea chair

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Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« on: August 03, 2020, 07:30:42 pm »
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Hello,

This has been bugging me for a while. I tried to ignore it, but every time I do exercises it always pops up. There are so many mistakes in the textbook that its not even funny anymore. Either the answers are wrong, or they forgot a minus sign, or something else; every chapter seems to have at least one error (some even have multiple errors).

There was one question in the probability section where it was like question 8 a, b, c ,d and every. single. one. was wrong.

And if you think that mathematical errors are it, I regret to inform you that is not the case.

Attached is a grammar mistake, where they forgot to add the word "and" which leads to confusion over the question.  I can't imagine how many people wasted their time trying to understand the question.

It makes me wonder if they picked some random people off the street to get the answers.


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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2020, 09:45:21 pm »
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Dunno, don't recall (not using the textbook much  ::) ) but tell 'em. Tell 'em all the mistakes. Get 'em to fix it. :)
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a weaponized ikea chair

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2020, 11:11:39 pm »
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Dunno, don't recall (not using the textbook much  ::) ) but tell 'em. Tell 'em all the mistakes. Get 'em to fix it. :)
I would, but there is literally too many.
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sweetcheeks

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2020, 07:13:43 am »
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I remember having trouble with the textbooks when I was in year 10, 11 and 12. It's frustrating when you are struggling with a topic and can't seem to get the right answer, only to realise when asking the teacher for help that the answer in the book is incorrect. It made studying maths a lot more stressful and made me less motivated.

Sometimes we would also find questions that you couldn't answer. For example, I remember one extended question where they didn't give enough information to solve it and the answer given in the book made no sense.

I understand that there are a lot of questions and occasionally a mistake will arise, however, the number of mistakes I found was unacceptable. Our school also had the worked solutions and they seemed to be much better with most of the mistakes corrected and with the working, it was possible to see where they made mistakes. I believe that they had to pay for them though.

S_R_K

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2020, 12:38:37 pm »
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Apart from the mistakes, they are generally quite incoherent. The main asset of Cambridge is as a source of decent questions, aside from that the presentation is rather poor.

Definitions are not clearly identified. When important results / theorems are presented, sometimes it's not clear whether the justification given is meant to be a proof or just a heuristic argument. Worked examples often involve methods that are generally invalid, without any comment on how to adjust the method for other cases.

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2020, 12:43:39 pm »
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Yeah it is. Which is why going beyond the textbook is a must. Commercial resources such as trial exams or even VCAA exams from way back will better prepare you for the exam. Use the textbook if you don't know the basics (though honestly, Khan Academy and various other free online resources usually do a much better job explaining!)

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Sine

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2020, 12:59:39 pm »
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Honestly, I am not a huge fan of textbooks in general for VCE given they are normally quite bloated usually contain heaps of unnecessary information which makes it hard for students to learn on their own.

The Cambridge maths textbooks I find to be an exception to this. You can probably learn all the basics of the subjects by going through the textbook and if you don't understand something watch a youtube video or ask a question on AN. Of course, this is likely not to be enough to do extremely well on the exam without additional practice exams and developing a good exam technique.

However, a lot of the criticism is valid, there are definitely mistakes (personally didn't find it too bad given I could just double-check answers) but I can see how it would be frustrating if you weren't entirely sure. The theory is ok but a lot of students just skip reading it which can lead to misunderstanding if you just try to answer questions via trial and error. From memory, the Maths Quest textbooks probably have better explanations.

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2020, 01:11:04 pm »
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The MathsQuest books are worse than Cambridge. The only sense in which the explanations are "better" is "more hand-holdy". Which might be better if you have real trouble just getting started on the most basic of basic questions, but in the long run you won't improve your ability to absorb and retain mathematics if you rely on every example being presented with every micro-step included.

If you find the Cambridge worked examples a bit advanced, MathsQuest isn't the answer - you're better off finding some decent instructional videos on YouTube.

keltingmeith

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2020, 02:01:59 pm »
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I think it's also worth noting that the textbooks are typically written by high school teachers and other educators (David Greenwood is the head of maths at Trinity Grammar, Michael Evans works for AMSI in maths education [I think? It was difficult to figure out for him, but I thought AMSI was a volunteer organisation mostly, so], Kay Lipson works for Online Education Services (OES), and Peter Jones I can't find anything about because it is the most generic white-name ever and too many people are popping up). While part of that means they should be able to teach effectively, it also means that they find out the study design at the same time as everyone else. That often means they have only /months/ to put a textbook together, and have you seen the size of these things? They're massive! Of course there's going to be mistakes popping up. It's part of the reason there should be regular re-prints of these books, but I don't think they have this time around, because people kept complaining about the goddamn amounts of re-prints.

I can see why it can be frustrating, but it's important to note that these people are only human. I typically don't like the, "I'd like to see you do better" retort, because it typically ignores underlying issues with things as if to say, "you should be happy with inadequacy just because you can't do better" - because tbh, you don't have to be good at something to know if it's of a poor standard (although some familiarity is required to make proper judgements, see the Dunning-Kruger effect - and any debates on this are best taken to another topic). But at the same time - like, these guys did the best they could with the time they had. Maybe they should've invested in more editors, but it's highly likely the moment they finished writing it went straight to printing. The next point is maybe more writers, but too many cooks spoil the broth, and its important that books like these sound uniform. Like, imagine if you really liked the way functions is set out, but probability was explained in a different way entirely? All of a sudden, you'll be wanting to refer to multiple textbooks, which is just too expensive, and so the textbook is going to lose sales. Uniformity is much more important in this context, than editting, which sounds stupidly counter-intuitive, but it is what it is.

Tbh, we'd be better off with a system in which more time was given between the study design being - well, designed - and then being implemented, just so textbooks had more time to get their shit together, but I can't see VCAA ever doing this.
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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2020, 02:49:38 pm »
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KeltingMeith, I don't buy that argument. The study designs for MM and SM have not changed all that much over the past twenty years (at least), and a great deal of the theory / examples / exercises are recycled from previous versions of the textbook. The authors have not been writing an entirely new textbook for each study design.

Your observation about the authors is probably relevant. It's eye-opening to compare the quality of the Cambridge textbooks for VCE with their HSC counterparts. The HSC books are written by people with more substantial backgrounds in mathematics (not just teaching it at high school), and the quality is far superior, in all respects.

keltingmeith

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Re: Is it me or is the Methods textbook really poorly written?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2020, 04:56:57 pm »
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They've changed a lot more than you probably think they have, as someone who had the job at one point of updating curriculum materials. The whole book needs to be combed over each time just to make sure that everything is still good - and while this shouldn't take more than a few weeks if you're working full time on it, these people are not. For example, when the modulus function was removed from methods, there were A LOT of questions and concepts that had to be cut from the textbooks - including some explanations. That's a lot of work for people who are full-time teachers.

And your point on the HSC books is even further relevant - I don't think them having "more substantial backgrounds" is important, but potentially the fact that BOSTES releases the information earlier might be? More importantly, the fact that these people might have more time to do these things IS incredibly important. Like, only have 3 months to make all the changes required of these books likely only equates to a few weeks when you include the fact that writing the book isn't their full time job.
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