Date: May 29, 1995 8:24 AM
Author: Rex Boggs
Subject: Rules and Formulas - Supplied or Not?

I was having a chat to a teacher of senior (ie grade 11 and grade 12)
mathematics a few days ago, and the question of whether students should be
given rules, identities and formulas on exams was raised. The question was
raised in the context of trig identities and index laws, but obviously has
wider applicability. Should we supply on the exam paper such things as
sin^2 + cos^2 = 1, (ab)^n = a^n b^n, log(ab) = log a + log b, the chain
rule for differential calculus, etc,, and concentrate on whether students
can apply the correct rule correctly. Or are these part of the body of
mathematical knowledge that a good student should have at their fingertips?

In Queensland, we have external exams for mature age learners. The Maths in
Society exam has the formulas supplied, the Maths B and Maths C exams
(roughly equivalent to Algebra II, and Calculus and Analytical Geometry)
don't. So even within our system there appears to be differing attitudes.

I would be interested to find out what other teachers at this level think.


Rex Boggs

Rex Boggs | High above the hushed crowd, | Rex tried to remain focused.
| Still, he couldn't shake one
Glenmore High School | nagging thought: He was an
Rockhampton, Quensland | old dog and this was a new
Australia | trick - Gary Larson