Math 1330: Arithmetical Problem Solving

This page contains general information about the course. A list of resources (online and otherwise) is available at the bottom of the page. For more specific details consult the syllabus handed out by your instructor on the first day of class.

For details specific to Dr. Kribs's current section of Math 1330, click here.

Course Coordinator (not Instructor) Info:

Dr. Christopher Kribs
Office: 483 Pickard Hall
Phone: (817) 272-5513
Fax: (817)272-5802
Personal home page:
Office Hours, fall 2008: Tue/Thu 1-2 PM and by appt.

Course Info:

Where & When: days and times vary by section (check the online timetables), but usually taught in Room 304 Pickard Hall
Prerequisites: College algebra and consent of course coordinator or math dept. advisor
Text materials: A course packet, available at Bird's Copies (on S. East St., 459-1688), or here as a PDF (see resource list below for reference texts)
Course home page: (this page)
Syllabus: An approximate schedule with topics is given below.

UnitTopic# Hours
1Problem Solving 9
2Operations 6
3Numeration Systems & Algorithms9
Midterm exam 1
4Fractions 9
5Number Theory 9
Final review 1
Final exam 2.5

Class policy on drops, withdrawals, academic honesty, and accommodating disabilities follows the University policy on these matters. Copies can be obtained upon request.


This course is designed to prepare future elementary school teachers mathematically to teach math (as opposed to pedagogically, which is the goal of ECED 4311/EDML 4372). It does this in two main ways: by teaching math which is relevant (not identical) to the math they will be teaching, and by modeling a math classroom through problem-solving activities, cooperative groups, and holding students responsible for deciding (reasoning) what is correct.


There will be almost no lecturing in this course. To help you develop your intuitive reasoning and problem-solving skills, we will spend most of our class time working in small groups on problems from the course packet. An important part of learning to solve problems is being willing to struggle with a problem even after you get stuck, and this is one of the first things you will face this term. You may be surprised by how much you can do if you just keep at it!

We will usually discuss the problems in a large group after most groups have finished them. Sometimes you will be asked to write up your ideas and solutions, but always you are expected to think about the problems, participate in solving them, and communicate your ideas with others. Communicating your ideas clearly to others is as important as developing them in the first place.

Note that this is a math content course, and not a pedagogy course. We hope that taking this course will help you be a better teacher, but more by setting an example rather than teaching you math methods. Students who come out of this course generally feel a lot more comfortable about teaching math, and about being a mathematical authority in the classroom. Hang in there!


Your grade for the course will be determined by two exams, by attendance and participation, and in large part by written work you will turn in. Percentages may vary by instructor.

The exams will be similar in nature to the problems we work in class, but short enough to be completed in the time given. A sample exam will be distributed before each exam in order to give you a closer feel for it, though you should not expect it to serve as an exact blueprint for the real thing. The dates and times for the midterm and a final exam (usually given in your usual room) are listed on your instructor's syllabus. Please mark them on your calendar now so as to avoid conflicts. If a conflict arises, please see your instructor as soon as possible to resolve it. Make-up exams may not be given without prior arrangement.

Attendance and participation are a significant part of your grade because this course is more an experience than a set of material to be learned. Most of what I hope will happen for you in this course will take place inside the classroom, working in groups and talking with others. Attendance is normally taken by means of a daily sign-in sheet. Your instructor's specific attendance policy and penalties for absences should be detailed on the syllabus. Arriving late (after class has started) or leaving early may count toward absences. It may also make you miss important announcements! Students with special needs, or other situation which affects their attendance for several consecutive classes, should consult with the instructor as soon as possible.

It is also in your interest to participate in the group problem solving sessions since active learning is better than passive learning. Participation includes both small and large group work. Participation in small groups means coming to class prepared (working on a problem outside of class, or bringing requested materials to class), working productively with groupmates, and making sure everyone in your small group follows what you are doing. Large group participation means making some sort of tangible contribution (spoken or written on the blackboard) about once a week. If you don't feel comfortable answering questions, ask one of your own: questions spur discussion as much as answers, and you'll be doing a favor to classmates wondering the same thing.

The written work will have two components: write-ups (also called problem reports) and reflections. A write-up is a detailed solution to a problem discussed in class. These write-ups should be readable independently of any worksheet on which they are based, in good English and either legibly handwritten in ink or word-processed. They should always include the following (although you need not use this form): 1. a statement of the problem at hand, 2. any strategies you used to attack the problem, 3. the solution you obtained, with an explanation of how you got it (and how you know it is complete), and 4. a conclusion that says what we can take with us from the problem. Communication of what you understand (even if it's not a complete understanding) is at least as much the point as finding the solution.

Your instructor will also sometimes ask you to write a reflection on a rather less concrete issue, like "What does it mean to get stuck?" These essays, usually a page or two in length, will be graded more loosely, more on how much thought went into it than on organization and content.

Your instructor will let you know at the time an assignment is given when it is due, but typically it will be due in class a week from the time it is assigned, and you will have roughly one assignment due per week. Check with your instructor for her/his policy on late assignments.

If you find you are having difficulty with written assignments, I encourage you to consult one of the 1330 instructors or your classmates, bringing a draft of the paper to go over. Small groups whose members revise each other's drafts historically tend to do better on them.


Class Links Page: Click here.

Library: Barbara Howser is the Mathematics Librarian. She can be reached at (817)272-7519, and by e-mail at You can find useful research information for mathematics on the UTA library page.

Textbooks: In the past, students have asked about reference texts since we don't use a traditional textbook. Math textbooks for this audience do exist and may be helpful at times, though they do not follow our syllabus, nor are they in the least necessary for the course. The reason we do not use them in the course is because they are fundamentally about math as telling, rather than math as a powerful way to make sense of things. I (CMKZ) have a copy of several such texts in my office which you may come browse.

You may also find the following books, available in the UTA Library, helpful:

Alice F. Artzt & Claire M. Newman. How to use cooperative learning in the mathematics class. Reston, VA: NCTM, 1990.

Tom Bassarear. Mathematics for elementary school teachers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005 (3rd ed.).

Rick Billstein, Shlomo Libeskind, Johnny W. Lott. Problem solving approach to mathematics for elementary school teachers. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Call numbers QA 135.5 .B49 1984 & 1987, QA135.6 .B55 2004.

Gary L. Musser, William F. Burger, Blake E. Peterson. Mathematics for elementary teachers : a contemporary approach. New York: J. Wiley, 2003. Call number QA39.3 .M87 2003.

O'Daffer et al. Mathematics for elementary school teachers. New York: Addison-Wesley.

These are your blackboards. Own the classroom.

Last revised August 26, 2008